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Dubai: 'RTA is piloting self-driving flying taxis, skypods and buses' – Khaleej Times

Tuesday, Nov 23, 2021 | Rabi Al-Aakhir 18, 1443
Published: Mon 22 Nov 2021, 4:14 PM
Last updated: Mon 22 Nov 2021, 4:17 PM
Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) recently completed the process of identifying and selecting potential locations to deploy a “fully operational smart infrastructure to monitor and communicate with autonomous vehicles in a safe manner”, a top official has said.
Mattar Mohammed Al Tayer, director-general and chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the RTA, said the authority also tested autonomous robots for logistics during the Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport this year and trialled self-driving buses.
“In cooperation with global firms, the RTA is piloting several self-driving transportation modes, including the autonomous aerial taxi, Dubai Sky Pods and the E-scooter,” said Al Tayer.
He admitted that the adoption of these futuristic modes of transportation is associated with various challenges like “potential accidents, technical failure, lack of readiness of infrastructure and difficulty with public acceptance”.
The future of transportation is based on three main enablers, he added.
“The first is infrastructure, which entails upgrading the transport infrastructure with technologies capable of supporting future modes and trends in transportation, such as the landing areas of autonomous air vehicles, adding smart sensors and upgrading control centres.
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“The second is ‘fostering new modes of transportation’; and the third is legislation, which entails enhancing new legislation to support futuristic modes of transportation such as self-driving vehicles and E-scooters,” explained Al Tayer.
He made these remarks in a keynote address at the main session of the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS) held at Expo 2020 Dubai.
He highlighted how the RTA’s journey in self-driving transport began as early as 2009 with the inauguration of the Dubai Metro — a fully automated driverless mobility mode with an average daily ridership of 650,000 riders.
He also stressed Dubai’s ambitious aim to convert 25 per cent of total mobility journeys to smart driverless ones by 2030. “The use of self-driving transport means will become quite common like having smartphones now,” he said.
20-minute city
The Dubai Urban Plan 2040 will re-imagine the city through different strategies and policies. One way is through the adoption of a “20-minute city” concept, where 55 per cent of the population will live within 800 metres of Metro stations. This will allow residents to access more than 80 per cent of daily services by walking, cycling and other soft modes of mobility.
“The total area allocated for high-tech industrial and economic activities will increase to 168 square kilometres — equivalent to 25 per cent of the total urban area in Dubai by 2040 to promote innovation and attract global companies and start-ups,” said Al Tayer.
“In consideration of the importance of roads and transport infrastructure for urban planning, RTA is currently engaged in revamping its strategic transport plan for the next 20 years to align it with Dubai Urban Plan 2040,” he added.
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