Autonomous Vehicle

Dubai hosts 3rd edition of self-driving transport congress

DUBAI, 26th September, 2023 (WAM) – H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council, inaugurated the third edition of the Dubai World Congress for Self-Driving Transport. He also honoured the winners of the Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport. The event was hosted by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). It saw the participation of over 2,000 international participants, 53 speakers, including top executives, researchers, experts, and developers of autonomous mobility technology. The congress also showcased over 40 exhibitors representing leading entities, displaying cutting-edge technologies in smart and sustainable mobility.

Mattar Al Tayer, Director General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors at RTA, welcomed His Highness upon arrival at the Dubai World Trade Centre. His Highness, along with the attendees, watched a video about the Dubai World Congress for Self-Driving Transport. It was the first trade event of its kind in the Middle East. The hosting of this congress is in line with RTA’s efforts to bolster the Dubai Strategy for Smart Self-Driving Transport. This strategy initiated by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to transform 25% of mobility journeys in Dubai into smart and driverless journeys by 2030.

Subsequently, Sam Rogers (Flying Man), Test Pilot and Designer Lead at Gravity Industries, delivered a keynote address. In his speech, he discussed the future of mobility in the Gravity Jet Suit. It is the world’s fastest jetpack crafted using 3D printing technology.

“We started using the jetpack suit across various countries worldwide. Paramedics have started utilizing it to reach patients, envisioning it as a future mode of transportation. We currently focus on manufacturing and advancing jet suits, utilizing technology to develop high-thrust and electric versions. We seek to expand the use of jet suits worldwide and host a race for jet suits in cities around the world, including Dubai,” he noted.

His Highness and attendees viewed a short video about the Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport, which carries a total purse of US$2.3 million. The challenge received 27 submissions from various countries around the world. It surpasses the target by up to 130% for the Industry Leaders category and 175% for the Local Academia category. Five international firms had qualified for the final stage in the Industry Leaders category. Also five universities in the Local Academia category.

The film showcased the tests conducted at a designated site at the Dubai Silicon Oasis. Collaborating with the Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, ensured compatibility with safety requirements. The tests encompassed traffic safety, the advancement of the autonomous technology implemented in buses, and user comfort. It also focused on RTA’s reliability, vision, innovation, skills and experiences, along with the commercial aspect of operability and added value.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed honoured the winners of the Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport. King Long Company from China won the first place in the Industry Leaders category and awarded US$1 million. Furthermore, they presented a self-driving bus, six metres in length, capable of reaching maximum speeds of 69 kilometres per hour and accommodating 12 passengers. The bus is equipped with 27 cameras and sensors, with a battery that can be fully charged in 120 minutes.

King Long Company secured first place after the bus successfully underwent multiple tests. Moreover, the evaluation was based on five primary criteria: operational strategy, safety and security, sustainability and energy, passenger experience, and interaction with road users. The bus cleared 20 different tests, including emergency lane shifting, navigating through a roundabout with obstacles. It surpassed a broken-down vehicle in the middle of the road.

Bright Drive Company from Egypt secured second place. They garnered US$750,000 for a self-driving bus that is six metres in length. Moreover, this bus has a top speed of 69 kilometres per hour. This bus, uniquely equipped with 16 cameras and sensors, can accommodate up to 15 passengers. Additionally, it can be fully charged in 180 minutes. The bus successfully passed tests that included reversing, navigating pedestrian crossing with limited visibility, and merging into traffic.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed also honoured the winning entities in the local academia category. Heriot-Watt University Dubai, the winner, received US$200,000. The university presented an innovative concept. Moreover, passengers experienced riding an autonomous vehicle in a virtual reality mode, characterized by passenger safety and comfort. It has new features that includes integration with RTA App and a Journey Planner for bus riders accessible through interactions with a Chatbot.

Khalifa University of Science and Technology, Abu Dhabi,, the runner-up, received US$100,000. Moreover, the university presented a customer experience concept for autonomous buses with a virtual human assistant capable of addressing and responding to passenger inquiries about the bus destination, the number of passengers, and internal and external temperatures.

However, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed honoured the strategic partners and sponsors of the Dubai World Congress and Challenge for Self-Driving Transport, along with the members of the international jury led by Dr. Stephen Shladover, an international expert in driverless transport technology. Subsequently, His Highness inaugurated the accompanying exhibition, which features over 40 companies specialised in self-driving transportation.

His Highness stopped by at the stand of the American company, GM Cruise, and observed the autonomous vehicles (Bolt and Origin) designed for shared mobility. Moreover, this year will witness the deployment of five autonomous Cruise vehicles for taxi and e-hail services. The number is set to gradually double to reach 4,000 vehicles by 2030.

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