Video: KT journalist takes to Dubai roads in self-driving car
The need for human intervention was not required as the self-driving SUV stopped on the dot at the traffic light.- Screengrab
Dubai - The route was preset and it was a short ride but done in a normal Dubai road condition at 4:00pm.
Self-driving cars are here and Khaleej Times took a ride in an autonomous SUV on the streets of Dubai during the World Congress for Self-Driving Transport on Tuesday, October 15.
We started from Zabeel Club, near Zabeel Palace, for a 2.8km, five-minute ride to Zabeel Hall at the Dubai World Trade Centre aboard an all-electric, self-driving Jaguar I-Pace. The route was preset and it was a short ride but done in a normal Dubai road condition at 4:00pm with regular petrol cars in front, behind and on our sides.
Jim O'Donoghue, a safety driver from Jaguar UK, was behind the wheel but his hands were off the steering wheel and his right foot did not step on the accelerator during the entire drive. Another Jaguar engineer, Allan Howling, was behind the driver's seat, monitoring the performance of the autonomous SUV.
Howling told Khaleej Times that for the test run, they've converted a regular Jaguar I-Pace SUV and added extra sensors, front and rear radars, an additional camera in front that was enhanced to monitor the traffic light and a GPS kit for to draw up a high-definition map of the route.
The front camera also used AI (artificial intelligence) to anticipate the traffic light turning to red or green.
According to O'Donoghue, the Jaguar I-Pace can reach a top speed of 200km/hr but during the test run it was set based on the speed limit of the road. It can reach zero to 100 kms in 4.3 seconds and can run up to 400 kilometres on a single charge, more than enough to make a return trip to Abu Dhabi International Airport from Dubai World Trade Centre and back.
Along the way, we encountered a couple of speed bumps and the SUV stopped mildly before hitting the speed bump and revved up gently before reaching the maximum 80km/hour speed limit.
O'Donoghue said, if there is a debris on the road, the driver can easily shift to manual (human) driving by grabbing the steering wheel and can switch back to auto-drive with a press of a button. The person at the back can also have a control of the steering wheel on auto-mode.
The need for human intervention was eliminated as the self-driving SUV stopped on the dot as the traffic light turned red and afterwards, as the light turned green, made a smooth left turn towards Trade Centre, our destination.
The car did not go beyond the busy Sheikh Zayed Road but the test run has driven home a point to convince a sceptical public that a self-driving car cruising on Dubai roads is not just a concept but a reality.