In 2016, Dubai International retained its status as the world’s busiest airport for international passengers. This year, the mega facility expects to receive 89 million passengers. Image Credit: GN Archives

Dubai: Powered by artificial intelligence (AI), self-driving electric vehicles may soon turn up at Dubai International airport to help airside crew run day-to-day operations.

The "robocars" would help the mega-facility run more smoothly, and cement the airport's status the world’s busiest airport in terms of international passenger traffic in 2016, and en route to hitting 89 million passengers this year.

Not only that, AI may soon also help airline passengers pick their on-board meals, too, or schedule a pickup by an airport taxi chauffeur — or guide passengers through last-minute duty-free shopping.

These are some of the AI-driven future projects now being developed by Emirates, it was announced on Saturday. 

Future projects 

The AI projects were highlighted during the visit of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to the Emirates Airline’s lab at the Dubai Future Accelerators facility in Emirates Towers. 

Crown Prince of Dubai Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum; Deputy Ruler of Dubai Shaikh Maktoum Bin Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum; and Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future Mohammad Al Gergawi accompanied Shaikh Mohammad during his visit.

Shaikh Mohammad said the aviation sector plays a significant role in the comprehensive development of the UAE and supports other economic sectors.

He said the aviation industry must introduce innovative and sustainable solutions to enhance operations, procedures and the overall travel experience.

Adel Al Redha, Emirates’ Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer, briefed Shaikh Mohammad on Emirates’ participation in the third cohort of Dubai Future Accelerators, which includes three challenges designed to enhance the group’s services by using modern technologies.

AI projects

Al Redha said that Emirates’ initiatives reflect the vision of Shaikh Mohammad to use artificial intelligence to enhance the customer experience across Dubai’s airports.

He said that Emirates will lead the way in this field by introducing unique initiatives that will add value to the aviation industry worldwide.

He added that Emirates is now working to complete the challenges set forth in Dubai Future Accelerators — in partnership with leading global technology and artificial intelligence companies.

Autonomous vehicles at airport

Emirates’ first challenge is to develop a new fleet of autonomous vehicles that meet the specialised mobility needs of airport airside operations.

This fleet should use 100% solar or electrical energy, instead of fuel — and deliver 50% improvement in operational efficiency.

The second challenge is to invent a solution to transform the way Emirates teaches cabin crew and the way they learn.

The third challenge is to develop a solution to integrate the personalised needs of Emirates passengers across the entire experience chain including chauffeur drive, meal selection and shopping.