Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) plans to test driverless buses on dedicated lanes in the near future.
In the first phase, the (public) buses will be autonomous, but with a driver sitting in as a back-up, which is similar to what we’ve seen with companies such as Google.
The driver will be present for precaution, Ahmad Hashem Behroozian, chief executive officer, RTA’s Licensing Agency, told Arabian Business.
But as the technology evolves, you can expect a bus without a driver and without steering in the future, Behroozian said.
“The autonomous buses will not be merging with traffic in the first two years. They will have their own dedicated lanes with sensors and cameras controlling the direction of the bus and it being able to stop during emergency situations,” said Behroozian.
He did not give any timeframe on when these driverless buses will be put into service.
Recently, RTA has signed an agreement with US-based electric car manufacturer Tesla to buy 200 electric vehicles fitted with autonomous driving technology.
The deal came just a day after the Elon Musk-led car maker unveiled its Model S and Model X models in the UAE.
The vehicles that include Model S sedans and Model X SUVs will be added to the limousine fleet of the Dubai Taxi Corporation (DTC).
The pact is part of the Dubai Smart Autonomous Mobility Strategy aimed at transforming 25% of journeys in Dubai into autonomous trips by 2030, said Mattar Al Tayer, director general and chairman of the RTA.
RTA would carry out a test run of Tesla autonomous hybrid electric vehicles as part of the Dubai Taxi limo fleet, Al Tayer said.
In August, RTA announced the start of the testing of a driverless 10-seater car. The trial run will have the autonomous vehicle shuttling over a 700-meter long track at the Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard in Dubai.
Mattar Al Tayer, director-general and chairman of the RTA, said that the trial run represents the first phase of this experiment to test driverless transit technology under the climatic environment of Dubai.
Through this trial run of the smart vehicle, RTA intends to educate the public about autonomous cars technology and the experimental use of the technology in Dubai’s climatic conditions, said Al Tayer in a statement.
The experiment comes shortly after Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s announced the launch of the Dubai Autonomous Transportation Strategy which aims at making 25% of all transportation trips in Dubai be smart and driverless by 2030.
Dubai autonomous mobility strategy 2030 is expected to result in savings of $6 billion (AED22 billion) per annum, reduce the mobility expenditure by 44%, curb demand for parking by 50%, reduce carbon emissions by 12% and limit traffic accidents and associated losses by 12%.