Dubai: In the next 4-5 years, around 4,000 robotaxis or driverless cabs will be deployed on the streets of Dubai, in line with the government’s goal to make 25 per cent of all trips across the city autonomous by 2030.
The announcement was made by Mattar Al Tayer, director general and chairman of the Board of Executive Directors at Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), during a panel discussion titled ‘Sustainability and Mobility Projects’ at the 7th Dubai International Project Management Forum (DIPMF), organised by RTA, on Thursday at Expo 2020 Dubai.
Al Tayer said the RTA has signed an agreement with Cruise, a US-based self-driving vehicle company backed by General Motors and Honda, to launch the first international robotaxi service outside of America.
“RTA’s initiatives and projects focus on sustainability and the use of technology to enhance the quality of life. The robotaxis — that are set to be the first in the world — will touch the lives of people and change lifestyle of everyone, including drivers and residents,” he noted.
Al Tayer said pertinent legislation and guidelines are being reviewed for the comprehensive roll-out of autonomous vehicles. He noted: “We are keeping pace with the changes in the transport sector by launching flexible legislations and policies. Our strategic plans have contributed to reducing carbon emissions and reviving many vital sectors through the use of technology in all means of transport.”
“The quality of life, public transport, booming economy and urbanisation all depend on sustainable infrastructures,” he underlined.
Dubai actually is no stranger to autonomous public transport as the city has been operating Dubai Metro, the world’s longest self-driving metro network, since 2009. There is also Dubai Tram and pilot tests for flying taxis have already been conducted.
Aside from autonomous transport, Al Tayer also talked about turning Dubai into a 20-minute city with the establishment urban centres based on Dubai Urban Plan 2040, wherein 80 per cent of the population’s needs are met in a geographic area of 20 minutes or less, on foot or by bicycle.
He explained the goal can be achieved by integrating service centres and raising the population density within the areas near mass transit stations. He added the RTA is recalibrating its strategic transport plan to align it with Dubai Urban Plan 2040.
Al Tayer also talked about the many great strides in Dubai’s infrastructures and road network. He noted over Dh145 billion have been spent in the last 15 years for infrastructure projects that has places the city on top of the world in terms of road quality.
Advice to project managers
Addressing the projects managers listening to the panel discussion, Al Tayer said: “It is very important to “engage their customers to meet their expectation. Go, see, and do benchmarking. Select the right business model. Adapt and implement agile policies as legislation differs from country to country. Budget has to be optimised and make sure the public get the quality of life they deserve.”
In the same panel discussion, Anne-Marie Idrac, former member of the National Assembly of France, said: “I feel optimistic towards Dubai for its achievements and ability to employ technology, science and knowledge in its quest to develop and sustain the transport sector. For decades, Dubai has been — and remains — at the forefront of global transport as it employs technology to shorten travel distances.”
As for her advice to the audience, Idrac said: “Integration is of utmost importance. Big Data should be included in all visions to be able to launch appropriate legislations that keep pace with the future of mobility. Legislations play a major role in implementing strategic plans that support infrastructure and enhance reliance on mass mobility and the employment of technology.”
Harvard professor Dr. Mark Esposito, who is also a best-selling author and pioneer of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, added: “Transport plays a major role in supporting many sectors along with the transition towards a sustainable economy. There is a consensus to reduce carbon use, and the UAE is moving in this direction through the use of technology, which promotes integration between vital sectors.”