Self-driving buses set to hit Abu Dhabi’s roads! Will carry residents to malls & offices in trial run


Proactive adoption of machine learning and announcements about smart vehicles have been the most visible aspects of Middle East’s tech transformation in the past few years. Residents have witnessed integration of AI into public services, including surveillance systems for traffic management as well as security on metro trains.

Abu Dhabi has recently upgraded its public transport infrastructure with electric buses that can be fully charged in record time. But in a major step towards providing a smart lifestyle for residents, the Emirati capital has rolled out self-driving vehicles for public transport as part of a test run, with about 13 vehicles.

The project has been kick-started by Abu Dhabi’s civic transport authority in collaboration with AI firm G24’s subsidiary Bayanat, and will be free of cost for the initial phase. Three of these autonomous shuttles will be carrying passengers in Yas Island theme park, and other 10 will be facilitating commute to malls, offices and restaurants in different parts of the city.

Running for 12 hours every day, the smart wagons will also come with a safety officer, who will monitor smooth functioning of the car and intervene in case of emergencies when vehicles lose their way. Bayanat will provide additional assistance for compliance with traffic rules through a central platform for managing operations and to ensure security.

Local administration will start working on a framework for issuing permits, outlining methods to test autonomous vehicles and other regulations to streamline the smart commute. They will also set standards for cyber-security measures to protect communication systems and software in the self-driving shuttles.

The smart cars will use sensors to continuously analyse their surroundings, and will navigate the streets without help from humans by employing mapping algorithms. Their mechanism includes stereoscopic vision and real-rime positioning systems to ensure a seamless commute.

Tests being conducted in Abu Dhabi come after a similar initiative, which was launched in Sharjah University last year.

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