Shaikh Hamdan, Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates airline and group and Mohammad Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister for Cabinet Affairs and the Future. Image Credit: WAM

Dubai: Dubai on Monday launched the trial run of the first driverless vehicle on day one of the second International Union of Public Transport (UITP) Mena Congress and Exhibition at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

The trial run is part of Dubai’s attempt to adopt smart mobility solutions in its mission to transform into the smartest city in the world.

Jointly built by Omnix International and Easy Mile, the autonomous vehicle dubbed EZ10, is an electric shuttle that can run in both directions as it has no specific front or rear.

The trial run was launched by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai,

The battery-powered vehicle can run up to four hours with AC on a single charge, while without AC it can run for up to 10 hours.

“This vehicle is being tested at 25 different cities right now and Dubai is the first in the region to have this vehicle. We are testing the vehicle’s adaptability to our weather conditions and we will trial it at different live environments over the next few months to see how and where it can operate best,” said Ahmad Hashem Behroozian, CEO of RTA’s Licensing Agency.

Designed to travel short distances on pre-programmed routes and under different environments, EZ10 is ideal for shuttle services in areas like university and corporate campuses, industrial zones, airports, recreation centres, pedestrian areas, etc.

EZ10 is mainly targeted to cover the last mile where conventional means of transportation are not relevant but at the same time distances are too long to walk.

“The vehicle can be programmed to operate on any route. Its system takes around 90 minutes to map and memorise a route and then it runs on it without any human interference. It has the best safety features and we have done all the risk assessment tests before putting it on trial,” said Behroozian.

Equipped with six seats, the vehicle can accommodate up to 12 people, with enough space for six people to stand.

Capable of moving at a speed of up to 40km/h, EZ10 normally cruises at 25km/h and is ideal for pedestrian areas and dedicated cycle lanes. The vehicle is also special needs-friendly, with a movable ramp allowing access to wheelchair-bound passengers.

“In the UAE, regulations don’t allow such a vehicle to be on the road and since the vehicle won’t be on the open road it doesn’t require registration. What we are studying is providing a dedicated lane for these vehicles or let it share space with bicycles and pedestrians. However, we have not finalised anything yet as this is still in a testing phase,” Behroozian added.

The vehicle is equipped with a 15kV battery and is four metres long and two metres wide. It requires a three-metre wide space to operate and can detect an obstacle up to 40 metres away.

“The system can detect obstacles and interact with objects at 360 degrees. The vehicle has a rooftop navigation system, equipped with two lazer sensors and a GPS sensor. All four corners of the vehicle are equipped with ensors and cameras with 270 degree vision,” said Behroozian.

EZ10 will be used to shuttle visitors at the UITP Congress at the Dubai World Trade Centre on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The three-day event, organised by RTA under the theme ‘Urban Mobility: Think Big, Act Smart’, is being attended by 600 delegates from 29 countries including 10 transport ministers.

A line-up of 102 speakers from 39 countries will discuss pressing issues in the transport sector. The exhibition spans an area of 6,480 square metres and is expected to attract more than 3,000 people over three days.

Thani Ahmad Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, and Masaki Ogata, president of the UITP and vice-chairman of East Japan Railway Company, gave the opening addresses.