Driverless vehicles will transport passengers in Abu Dhabi for free as the UAE Capital trials the technology later this year.
Self-driving vehicles will be piloted in two phases.
The first phase includes three vehicles operating in the main area of Yas Island in the pick-up and drop-off points for hotels, restaurants, shopping malls and offices. The second phase includes more than 10 vehicles in multiple locations across Abu Dhabi.
The service will be free of cost in both phases, and will be provided from 8am to 8pm. A safety officer will be present in the driving seat “to facilitate the operation and intervene in the event of any sudden occurrence to ensure the highest security and safety standards”.
Autonomous vehicles are able to sense the surrounding environment and navigate without human intervention, and rely on mapping algorithms and data obtained from multiple built-in sensors to determine the path of the road. Typical sensors include technical systems similar to radars, and a stereoscopic vision system, Geographic Positioning System (GPS), Optical Object Recognition System, and Real-time Positioning System.
The Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT) has signed a cooperation agreement with Bayanat, a G42 company, for the trial operations of the autonomous vehicles.
Bayanat will provide “comprehensive support” to the programme, including vehicle safety testing, central security and operation management platform, as well as overseeing the autonomous vehicle operations for the purpose of complying with traffic laws and its executive regulations in the UAE.
Hasan Al Hosani, CEO of Bayanat, said self-driving vehicles “heavily rely” on geospatial data, advanced mapping and artificial intelligence capabilities.
The two parties will also cooperate to lay the basic infrastructure for autonomous vehicles in Abu Dhabi. These include a high-resolution map and identification sites with high-precision technology and the field of testing for Autonomous Vehicles Certification and Infrastructure technology.
DMT will work to lay down the legislative, regulatory and supervisory infrastructure necessary for the use of autonomous vehicles; review and approve the necessary outlets, roadside infrastructure and methods for testing autonomous vehicles; oversee aspects related to safety and training; and issue permits.