Autonomous vehicles, Driverless pods, Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority, RTA

Dubai unveils world’s first ‘driverless’ pods

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) launched the first tests of the world’s first autonomous pods at the World Government Summit on Sunday, Arabian Business reported.

The autonomous pods – launched in cooperation with Next Future Transportation – are designed to travel short and medium distances in dedicated lanes. They can be coupled together in as little 15 seconds or detached – depending on the riders’ destination – in five seconds.

Each pod is fitted with cameras and electromechanical technologies to carry out the coupling and detaching, which can be activated while the pod is in motion.

According to RTA, each pod has an average speed 20 kilometres per hour, and measures 2.87 metres in length, 2.24 metres in width and 2.82 metres in height, and weighs about 1,500 kilograms – enough to carry 10 riders. The autonomous pod is fitted with a battery that supports three hours of operation, and can be charged in just six hours.

“The pilot test of driverless units is directed by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in the context of transforming Dubai into the smartest city worldwide,” said RTA director-general and chairman of the board of executive directors Mattar Al Tayer.

Al Tayer added that the pdos are “also also part of RTA endeavors to provide autonomous transport through carrying out technological tests on autonomous transport means under Dubai’s climatic conditions.”

The pods form part of Dubai’s larger strategy of making 25 percent of all journeys in Dubai autonomous by 2030. RTA has signed an agreement with the US-based Next Future Inc. to develop the units as part of the initial phase of Dubai Future Accelerators.

“The success of initial tests of these units will bring about a breakthrough in transportation systems that offer innovative mobility solutions and ease snarls in the city,” Al Tayer added, noting that the pods also come with three protection systems to avoid crashes.

Recently, KPMG’s Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index (AVRI) ranked the UAE in the top 10 countries  for driverless vehicles potential.