Self-driving buses is the theme for this year's self-driving transport challenge. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The Dubai World Congress for Self-Driving Transport is round the corner (September 26-27) and the 10 finalists for the Dubai World Challenege for Self-Driving Transport 2023 have been announced.

The theme for the challenge is self-driving buses.

According to the jury, chaired by Dr Steven Shladover, an international expert in driverless transport technology, five international firms qualified for the final stage in the Industry Leaders category. They include Alexander Dennis (United Kingdom), BrightDrive (Egypt), Xiamen King Long (China), Quadribot (France), and iAuto Technology (Taiwan).

Five universities were selected as finalists in the Local Academia category. They are Heriot-Watt University, Dubai, Khalifa University, University of Dubai, University of Bolton Ras Al Khaimah and the American University of Sharjah.

Concept to reality

Mattar Al Tayer, Director General, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of RTA, said, “The Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport aims to expand the use of self-driving transportation across the board. It encourages industry leaders to cope with the current challenges such as the first and last-mile challenge facing public transport riders in reaching their final destinations, traffic congestion, and the drop in public transport ridership. Self-driving transport has become a key pillar of RTA’s strategy and we are keen on launching several initiatives to turn the self-driving transportation concept into a reality in Dubai.”

He recalled how the third edition of the challenge saw a surge in submissions as it received 27 applications from all over the world. This surpassed the targeted number by 130 per cent in the Leading Industries category, and 175 per cent in the Local Academia category.

Designating self-driving buses as a theme for the third edition of the challenge is in line with RTA’s efforts to achieve Dubai’s Smart Self-Driving Transport Strategy aimed to transform 25 per cent of mobility journeys in Dubai into smart and driverless journeys by 2030.

Attractive prizes

In the Industry Leaders category, $1 million will go to the winner, $750,000 to the runner-up and $250,000 will be allocated as part of a contract to run trials of driverless buses with one of the winners of this category to support the targets of the Dubai Smart Self-Driving Transport Strategy. In the Local Academia category, the winner will be awarded $200,000 and the runner-up will receive $100,000.

This year’s renewal attracted great submissions since the launch of 3rd edition of the challenge in May 2022 via its dedicated website. Companies had to pass standardised tests designed by global experts. They included basic and advanced tests, covering traffic safety, maturity of the autonomous technology in buses, user convenience, credibility and forward vision of the participating entity, the extent of innovation, skills and relevant expertise as well as the commercial aspects of feasibility and value addition.

Tests for the Industry Leaders category were conducted at a designated site at Dubai Silicon Oasis in collaboration with the Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, to ensure all safety protocols are met.

In the tests for the Local Academia category, each university showcased its prototype at its campus. The assessment is guided by the university’s solutions for enhancing passenger service, integration with autonomous buses, and the maturity of proposed solutions.