DP World's ready to sail into Metaverse, and is on-boarding learnings from its Big tech Project. The UAE's MBZUAI came in first in the competition, while IIT Bangalore placed second. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani / Gulf News

Dubai: DP World, one of the world’s largest port operators, is all set to begin using Metaverse applications in its staff safety training modules in two months.

While a full-fledged DP World 3D ‘digital twin’ in the Metaverse is still under development, the company has created a fully-functional 2D version. And these new technologies will help the company reduce its carbon emissions, replacing physical travel with online training, Pradeep Desai, the Chief Technology Officer of DP World.

The new developments come at a record speed as Sultan bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and Chief Executive of DP World, first announced the Dubai entity’s intentions to enter the Metaverse only in May. In a related move, the company also plans to increase its workforce in India from 500 to 700 employees, especially in the IT division, as it expands its operations in the technology sphere. Last week, the company announced plans to launch a new technology centre in Gurgaon, India.

DP World also ran a ‘Big Tech Project’, which invites students from UAE and India to solve challenges in the logistics space using Metaverse and IoT applications. A team from Mohamed Bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) were crowned the winner of its Big Tech Project. IIT Bangalore from India bagged second place.

Desai said he wants to use the innovations developed by students who participated in the competition. “We were impressed by what we saw and are looking forward to the students joining us for their internships,” said Desai.

Metaverse in DP World

“With the introduction of Metaverse applications, we are just building on what already exists at our training facilities, where we’re already practising heavy-duty automation simulation such as remote crane operations, etc.,” he said. “We are trying to achieve a more simplified way of doing things that are already being done in the training centre, and in another two months, we should have the first use-case safety training module for our staff available.”

Without citing exact figures, Desai said the company had invested only a ‘few million dollars’ to build the company’s metaverse infrastructure.

“Learning and collaboration are the primary use case scenarios to make it come to real life,” the CTO said. “Employees are sitting in DP World ports in 60 to 70-odd countries worldwide, and there’s always a need to find out what’s going on in another terminal so that you can learn. That is a classic use case for us.”

Students develop solutions 

As part of the Big Tech project, the winning team from MBZUAI developed a three-day training and maintenance inspection system for new employees. Graduate students Dhanalaxmi Gaddam and Abass Bamidele Abdulsalam, or group ‘Digicortex’, developed the product keeping in mind the high prevalence of human errors among new employees in a port terminal.

“We noticed that a high percentage of accidents are caused by human error. While port devices have improved drastically over the past 20 years, we also need to consider that the equipment needs to be handled with high efficiency, which is something new employees may not have,” explained Abdulsalam.

The team proposed a solution that helps new workers use the Oculus VR for metaverse training and later use Google Glass for maintenance. “It is a 3D training and inspection system,” he added. The team from India IIIT India also presented a training solution in the Metaverse for crane operations.

Akshat Garg and Agrim Jain said, “DP World has a robust education program and a training institute. They can use our solutions to train crane operators, for example, making them cost-efficient and reducing operating costs as well.”