Soon, ride a driverless bus in Dubai as global startup begins trials
The robotbus has been launched in Finland, reinventing the experience of millions of commuters every day.
Dubai - Sensible 4's GACHA will be tested as a smart transport solution for Dubai.
By Staff Report
Published: Sat 11 Jul 2020, 12:00 AM
Last updated: Sun 12 Jul 2020, 11:46 AM
Soon, you may be able to ride a bus without a driver in Dubai. GACHA, the world's first self-driving robotbus that can handle all weather conditions, will be piloted in the emirate's Sustainable City, authorities announced on Saturday. An invention by start-up Sensible 4 from Finland, GACHA was one of the two international projects that were selected in the Cohort 7 global start-up programme of Dubai Future Accelerators (DFA), an initiative of Dubai Future Foundation (DFF), in partnership with the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). Sensible 4's GACHA, along with VRCraftworks' augmented reality project, will be tested as a smart transport solution for Dubai. The robotbus has been launched in Finland last year, reinventing the experience of millions of commuters every day. Sensible 4's unique technology, including superior positioning, navigation and obstacle detection, ensures that the autonomous shuttle bus can operate in any weather, regardless of environmental conditions. Tommi Rimpiläinen, COO at Sensible 4, said: "DFA and its programme have offered us the window to understanding Dubai's entrepreneurship landscape. The spirit of co-creation of the future was prominent throughout the programme. We're very excited to pilot our technology with the RTA in Dubai, the city of the future. "Dubai is a place with a very ambitious target for autonomous driving, and this makes it also one of the most forward-thinking places in the world for self-driving mobility. Our focus has been on solving the critical issues related to challenging weather for driverless transportation, such as extreme heat, sand, dust and fog. A partnership with RTA is a great honour for us." During the Cohort 7 programme, Sensible 4 addressed some of the key questions for the GACHA bus to be trialled within the city. Shared by Sensible 4 on its website, this video shows the Gacha bus in action. It focused on how the autonomous vehicle solution will be different compared to other similar tech previously tested by the RTA; what the suitable locations for testing are; how the project will be adopted by the community in terms of accessibility and ease of using its services; and lastly, the different methods that will be used to evaluate the project's success. How the Cohort 7 programme went During the Cohort 7 programme, startups worked side by side with the RTA to test innovations that could revolutionise the future of mobility and enable a more sustainable, automated and personalised travel experience within Dubai. The programme included a series of challenges proposed by the RTA. It focused on finding tech solutions for wayfinding and smart monitoring systems - all to create a safe and seamless autonomous public transport for the city. The companies were immersed in a nine-week accelerator programme, planned and organised by the DFA and RTA. They studied the current processes across the city and explored how their solutions can be localised to meet the RTA's requirements. In addition to this, the startups participated in several expert-led workshops and webinars organised by the DFA and were introduced to relevant stakeholders from the team's ecosystem.
At the end of the programme, the companies presented their fully developed projects to the RTA's management, which greenlit the pilot phase of two innovations in Dubai.
Saeed Al Falasi, executive director for Future Design and Acceleration at DFF, said: "We are pleased to be the enabler of what will be considered 'transformational pilot projects' in Dubai's mobility future. One of the imperatives for Dubai Future Accelerators is to offer meaningful opportunities for the startups around the world, to accelerate their innovative projects by working closely with leading government entities such as RTA, and I'm glad that we can live up to the promise." Al Falasi called on all government entities in Dubai to participate in the upcoming cohort of the programme, put forth their challenges, work closely with tech startups and innovators that are part of the DFA's vast network to find innovative solutions.
Moaza Al Marri, executive director for the office of the director-general, chairman of the Board of Executive Directors, and head of the steering committee of shaping the future at RTA, said: "Smart transportation is essential for Dubai's development; it acts as a lifeline for the smooth functioning of the city. Thanks to the DFA programme, and in working closely with our partner startups, the pilot projects will enhance the public transit experience and provide world-class services for all citizens, residents and tourists alike, through the use of advanced technologies."