The first-of-its-kind smart taxis launched by Sharjah Taxi. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Sharjah Taxi, a subsidiary of Sharjah Asset Management Company, an investment arm of the Government of Sharjah, has launched the first-of-its-kind smart taxi in the Middle East, with the primary goal to harness artificial intelligence services to be utilised in vehicle operations and safety.

The launch is in line with the digital transformation plan of Sharjah which aims to raise the level of services provided to the public, in accordance with the highest global standards of security and safety.

Khalid Al Kindi, Executive Director of Sharjah Taxi, said that the smart vehicles are equipped with sensors, cameras, a mobile data unit and other devices connected to an integrated system for control mechanisms. The pilot project benefits from best international practices in the field of intelligent transportation systems, which will contribute to increasing operational efficiency, and provide an integrated network of systems to report instant and accurate information related to transportation movement.

He highlighted that intelligent transportation systems apply modern technologies in the areas of monitoring, information collection, control and means of communication, and utilise the full capacity of road networks and other means of transportation. The system helps regulate flow of traffic, facilitate access to key places, monitor driver behaviour, mitigate erroneous practices, and reduce meter manipulations. As a result, the number of trips and total wasted kilometres are reduced, ultimately reducing the rate of road accidents and environmental pollution, whilst raising operational efficiency. The company also benefits through a reduction in operational costs.

Al Kindi explained that the launch of the smart vehicle will result in an important package of outputs, most notably monitoring driver behaviour. The system contributes to monitoring driver behaviour through an intelligent system, with the ultimate aim of analysing the causes and circumstances leading to erroneous practices, such as the use of mobile phones while driving, driving under the influence of alcohol, drowsiness and fatigue, or preoccupation with anything other than the road.

Technical equipment inside the vehicle enables the collection of various data including vehicle temperature, electronic parts condition, and more. This enables remote monitoring of the vehicle, allowing real-time interventions and appropriate actions as soon as possible. The Control and Monitoring Panel, a direct control panel that helps follow driver work and operating efficiency indicators, was set up for Sharjah Taxi’s Operations Department to take immediate appropriate action upon the occurrence of any adverse event, as outlined by the company’s requirements and parameters set by Sharjah Taxi Control Centre.

This was also done to avoid any misuse of the vehicle by drivers. It contains clear, readable and diverse visuals that work together on one screen and several specialised screens. The equipment also provides a comprehensive interactive display of data, providing essential insights for quick decision-making, characterised by a coherent design and clear graphs, that help the designated employee perform their duties to the fullest.

Services in the new control centre

The recently opened control centre helps support the vision of Sharjah Taxi, which has been equipped with the latest new technologies in operating taxi transportation services. Through the centre, the operations of nearly 750 taxis are managed in Sharjah City, Sharjah International Airport and in the Eastern Region. The centre monitors drivers’ wrong practices, directs them to safety, educates them, and ensures their commitment and adherence to work regulations.

The Sharjah Taxi fleet comprises 760 vehicles, including 96 vehicles for the eastern and central regions, 160 vehicles for Sharjah International Airport, 20 vehicles designated for women and families in Sharjah city and the airport, 10 luxury limousines and additional vehicles for people with disabilities.