Electric vehicles, mobility as a service, and autonomous transport are already here and making a big impact across the whole automotive ecosystem. GITEX Dubai, among many other aspects of technology, also brought current challenges facing the automotive industry into focus.

Several major automakers had innovative and future-forward solutions to issues we might be facing today or run into tomorrow. Here is a brief look at the ones that caught our attention.

“Our efforts to bring OnStar to the region play a testament to this. Aligned with the region’s dynamic and visionary leadership, we are working closely with public and private partners such as ESMA, the Dubai Police, Abu Dhabi Police, and Etisalat to ensure a smooth and safe roll-out of our OnStar technology in the UAE,” said John Roth, President and MD of General Motors Africa and the Middle East.

General Motor's acclaimed OnStar assistance is now available across the UAE.

OnStar by General Motors

American automotive conglomerate General Motors introduced OnStar, its in-vehicle safety and security system at the GITEX 2019. OnStar is a membership-based service that connects drivers to a human advisor at General Motors, who assists them in standard road situations and emergencies. Helping drivers since 1996, OnStar is now available 24/7 in the UAE.

John Roth, President & Managing Director at General Motors Africa and the Middle East, said, “Guided by our global vision of a world with Zero Crashes, Zero Emissions, and Zero Congestion, we work to harness technology and innovation to give everyone a safer, secure journey.

“Our efforts to bring OnStar to the region play a testament to this. Aligned with the region’s dynamic and visionary leadership, we are working closely with public and private partners such as ESMA, the Dubai Police, Abu Dhabi Police, and Etisalat to ensure a smooth and safe roll-out of our OnStar technology in the UAE.”

The Renault EZ Ultimo EV's onoard softwares are powered by Etisalat's network technologies.

Etisalat-powered Automobiles

In recent years, the mobility sector has witnessed tremendous innovation, disruption, and the involvement of hitherto unrelated services. Enter Etisalat with its impressive digital showcase at GITEX 2019. Etisalat’s objective is to encourage the growth of the automotive industry in the digital arena.

Manufacturers nowadays are launching cars that are mobile network hotspots. Receiving over-the-air updates, syncing with various smart electronic devices, and memorising user patterns are just some of the things a car can do with the help of strong network and high-speed internet. Etisalat is a leader in this very sector, and has a slew of exciting products on display.

First up is the Renault EZ-Ultimo, a robo-car equipped with Level 4 autonomy. Powered by a purely electric drivetrain, it can connect to urban environments and highway infrastructure, driving effortlessly without human input. Lazareth’s flying motorcycle also attracted many visitors to the Etisalat display. A two-wheeled work of art built around a 5.2-litre Maserati V8 engine, the motorcycle can convert from ride to fly mode in roughly 60 seconds.

The LIFT Aircraft HEXA drone can be controlled from a joystick in the cockpit, and is stabilised by an onboard flight computer. It weighs 200kg and has 18 sets of propellers, motors, and batteries. Flying at a little above 97kph at full clip, the personal flying machine can also land on water.

Finally, an innovative new semi-autonomous vehicle is making a global impact at GITEX 2019. The WheeM-I (Wheelchairs Mobility Interface) is ideal for people with light manual wheelchairs to commute around an urban landscape. It is connected via an app, and will enable users to interact with the device, other WheeM-I users, and other means of transport and related services via an application programming device.

Mercedes-Benz chose to debut its Formula E contender, the EQ Silver Arrow, at GITEX 2019.

Middle East debut of Mercedes-Benz Formula E car

A replica of Mercedes-Benz’s Formula E racing car, christened the EQ Silver Arrow 01, marked its Middle East debut at the SAP pavilion. Tech firm SAP is the official business performance partner for the Mercedes-Ben EQ Formula E team. Its showcase of innovative technologies will be adopted at Expo 2020 Dubai through the SAP Co-Innovation Lab in the UAE.

As for the Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E team, it will make its racing debut at the SAUDIA Diriyah E-Prix on Friday, 22nd November, 2019.

Apart from the big movers, there were many young firms proudly showcasing their innovations at GITEX 2019. The number of exhibitors, academia, and visitors working in synergy to arrive at sustainable solutions for future mobility makes for a heartening sight indeed. Crucially, the 2019 edition of GITEX had a clear agenda of sustainable mobility for the automotive sector. The sheer amount of know-how, innovations, and products on display make us believe the future is already upon us.