Masdar City, Abu Dhabi’s flagship sustainable urban development, has unveiled its first autonomous vehicle christened NAVYA. A total of seven such shuttles will be pressed into service from 2019.

Designed by French autonomous vehicle specialist NAVYA, the Autonom Shuttle is dedicated to first and last-mile transportation. It is limited to a top speed of 25kph. Masdar City’s wider transportation strategy will see the inclusion of a total of seven such Autonom Shuttles from 2019 onwards. According to a statement issued by Masdar City’s transportation authority, the shuttle has successfully completed a rigorous pilot testing phase and will shortly commence on a regular all-day service linking Masdar City’s parking areas with its main podium.

The NAVYA Autonom shuttle was inaugurated in the presence of dignitaries representing the Department of Transport, Abu Dhabi Police, and the French Embassy. Developed in close collaboration between NAVYA and the Department of Transport, the shuttle was customized to mitigate the effects of the Gulf’s acute humidity and heat on battery performance. Stringent health and safety testing were also carried out to safeguard passengers and pedestrians.

The service will be the first operational use of this technology in the Middle East and North Africa. Over time, the shuttle network will expand to connect the Eithad Eco Residence complex above the city’s North Car Park with the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) headquarters and Majid Al Futtaim’s My City Center Masdar shopping arcade which will open in the first half of 2019.

The NAVYA Autonom is fully autonomous, fully electric, can seat up to twelve passengers, and represents Abu Dhabi’s sustainable urban mobility initiative perfectly. Image

Yousef Baselaib, executive director for Sustainable Real Estate at Masdar said, “Masdar City is built on the three pillars of economic, societal and environmental sustainability and the introduction of our first NAVYA vehicle perfectly illustrates this philosophy in action.

“With urban mobility at the forefront of the sustainability conversation in the UAE and worldwide, and with the business, residential and research community here at Masdar City continuing to flourish, Masdar is building on its legacy as a catalyst for clean-tech innovation to bring cutting-edge and commercially viable autonomous mobility to the streets of Masdar City.”

The autonomous shuttle uses advanced technology to generate a safe driving path from point A to point B. It uses onboard cameras and sensors creating three as well as two-dimensional “perception maps” to detect obstacles in its field of vision in addition to their position relative to the vehicle. GPS technology allows the shuttle to determine its precise location, and V2X gives it the ability to communicate with traffic lights.

NAVYA Group deputy CEO Jérôme Rigaud said at the unveiling of the Autonom Shuttle: “NAVYA is delighted to provide Masdar City with its fully autonomous and smart solutions, providing users with a new way of getting around. Masdar City is the perfect place to commemorate the first deployment of the NAVYA Autonom Shuttle in the MENA region, where we expect expansion within Masdar City to be broad and decisive in the coming months.”