The Roads and Transport Authority of Dubai has flagged off trials of the country’s first driverless cab. The autonomous taxi will run test rounds over designated routes in Dubai Silicon Oasis for a period of three months.
From humble beginnings on the basis of a fleet of 81 cars in 1995, the Dubai Taxi Corporation has come a long way to the present day. The Dubai Police and RTA together flagged off the trial run of the UAE’s first autonomous taxi on Monday, 31 December 2018.
The autonomous Mercedes-Benz C-Class can drive at a peak speed of 35kph. It can accommodate four people, plus a professional driver to take over the controls should the autonomous systems fall short of delivering.
Khaled Al Awadhi, Director of RTA’s automated fare collections systems department stated that there will only be one autonomous taxi on trial run for now, driving over a predetermined route in the Dubai Silicon Oasis. “After the three-month trial phase, we will gather all the information and evaluate how we can roll out the driverless taxis in other areas of the city,” Al Awadhi concluded.
A driver will be seated in the autonomous taxi, tasked with intervening in case the vehicle needs to shift to manual mode from automated drive. While the driverless cab is not available for public use yet, passengers will be invited to try the autonomous ride during its trial phase, according to Al Awadhi.
Testing will continue for three months after which DTC can safely press more of these autonomous taxis into service.
The RTA first previewed the design and concept of such a cab at the 38th GITEX Technology Week held in October 2018. Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of RTA asserted that the autonomous taxi will serve as a “last-mile solution” for public transport.
In a previous report, Al Tayer said: “It will contribute to the integration of mass transport systems by facilitating the movement of public transport users, specifically Dubai Metro and Dubai Tram, to reach their final destinations.”