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Mattar Al Tayer witnesses the agreement signing by Hani Weiss, Chief Executive Officer of Majid Al Futtaim Retail and Artem Fokin, Head of Business Development at Yandex Self-Driving Group. Image Credit: RTA

Dubai: Robots will be used to deliver food and groceries in Dubai in future as part of the Roads and Transport Authority’s plan to convert 25 per cent of mobility journeys to self-driving transport means by 2030.

Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General, Chairman of the Board of the Executive Directors of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) attended the concluding event of the Dubai World Congress and Challenge for Self-Driving Transport where three major agreements were signed.

The agreements signed between participating companies call for developing technology-driven solutions for self-driving transport.

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The first agreement was signed between Careem and Kiwibot to develop food and grocery delivery robots. The second one was made between Majid Al Futtaim and Yandex to explore independent technology solutions to enhance the scope of the last-mile delivery of Carrefour orders. The third agreement was between Noon, Neolix and Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) to provide self-driving logistical services within RIT campus.

Pioneering Dubai

Al Tayer stressed that the signing of the agreements boosts the global profile of Dubai in developing pioneering solutions for self-driving transport that support the last-mile journeys to deliver items to customers. It also supports Dubai’s Smart Self-Driving Transport Strategy aimed to convert 25% of total mobility journeys in Dubai to self-driving transport means by 2030.

“These agreements are part of Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport outcomes, which sets a global platform for companies, academia, and R&D centres to run case scenarios and introduce self-driving transport technologies in Dubai. It also contributes to broadening the use of autonomous transport means, and encouraging entities to tackle the existing challenges,” noted Al Tayer.

Robots for grocery

The agreement between Careem and Kiwibot entails the introduction of robot delivery for food and grocery items across residential areas in Dubai, the first of its kind in the region. Together with Kiwibot, Careem will launch a pilot program to study the feasibility of the market and assess the best geographical locations. College campuses and highly dense residential areas are primary locations for the pilot, with RTA helping to facilitate the deployment of the product through a regulatory framework.

The agreement was signed by Bassel Al Nahlaoui, Managing Director of Mobility at Careem, and Felipe Chávez Cortés, Chief Executive Officer of Kiwibot.

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Mattar Al Tayer witnesses an agreement by Bassel Al Nahlaoui, Managing Director of Mobility at Careem, and Felipe Chávez Cortés, Chief Executive Officer of Kiwibot Image Credit: RTA

“We are looking forward to working with Kiwibot and RTA to introduce autonomous vehicles in our offerings and support Dubai’s Autonomous Transportation Strategy to provide simple, affordable, and reliable mobility,” said Bassel Al Nahlaoui, Managing Director of Mobility at Careem.

“Our mission is to make people’s everyday lives simpler and being at the forefront of the technology industry in the region, we are in a perfect position, alongside our partners, to introduce such an innovative and convenient feature to the food and grocery delivery space,” added Al Nahlaoui.

“We are delighted to launch this pilot phase with Careem and RTA, taking a step towards the introduction of delivery robots in the region. The Kiwibot team works hard to further last-mile delivery technology innovation, and to watch this partnership unfold before our eyes, bringing our dreams one step closer to reality is incredibly exciting,” said Felipe Chávez Cortés, Kiwibot’s CEO.

Al Futtaim and Yandex

Majid Al Futtaim, the leading shopping mall, communities, retail, and leisure pioneer across the Middle East, Africa, and Central Asia, has announced its collaboration with Yandex, one of the largest IT companies in Europe, to explore autonomous technology solutions to enhance Carrefour’s last-mile delivery capabilities and to deliver orders using self-driving technology.

Responding to the high demand for online orders, Carrefour customers in selected neighbourhoods across the UAE could receive their online orders via Yandex autonomous delivery robots as part of the pilot program, which is set to launch in early 2022.

The agreement was signed by Hani Weiss, Chief Executive Officer of Majid Al Futtaim Retail and Artem Fokin, Head of Business Development at Yandex Self-Driving Group.

Autonomous vehicle technology

The partnership supports Yandex’s autonomous vehicle technology, which can efficiently plan the safest route in real-time, detect approaching vehicles and pedestrians, and travel at speeds of up to 8km/h on sidewalks or other pedestrian areas. Customers will be able to track its movement in real-time on the MAF Carrefour App.

“As a leading retailer, driving the retail industry into the future is our responsibility. Together with Yandex, and the ongoing support of the RTA, we are excited to explore this innovative new last-mile solution to offer our customers greater flexibility, convenience, and speed with their online orders. What was once considered science fiction, we are delighted that the wheels are in motion for Carrefour to start delivering orders via self-driving, fully automated robots,” said Hani Weiss, Chief Executive Officer of Majid Al Futtaim Retail.

Last-mile delivery

“The demand for automated last-mile delivery continues to grow across the world. Not only businesses but also cities and even whole states have now taken an interest in this technology. Autonomous delivery has the potential to improve the life of people in cities while helping companies optimise their logistics and cut down the costs, said Dmitry Polishchuk, Head of Yandex Self-Driving Group.

“Yandex robots have already delivered tens of thousands of orders in the USA and Russia. We appreciate the support from RTA and together with Majid Al Futtaim we will explore the opportunities to bring the advantages of robotic delivery to Dubai’s daily life”, he added. Noon, Neolix and RIT

The agreement between Noon, Neolix and Rochester Institute of Technology entails operating Neolix-manufactured autonomous vehicles to provide self-driving logistical services and deliver Noon products to customers, at the Rochester Institute of Technology campus in Dubai.

The agreement was signed by Mansoor Al Ghurair, from Noon, Jason Wang, Neolix UAE Manager and Dr Yousef Al-Assaf, President of Rochester Institute of Technology Dubai.

Autonomous vehicles for logistical services

Eng. Muammar Khalid Al Kathiri, Executive Vice President of Engineering Affairs at the Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, said, “The announcement of the development of an autonomous vehicle for logistical services within the Rochester Institute of Technology campus in Dubai in Dubai Silicon Oasis, in collaboration with Neolix and Noon, is a quality step forward. It comes in the aftermath of RTA’s Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport, and honouring supporters, including the Dubai Silicon Oasis.

“This cooperation to create smart future mobility solutions in the Oasis paves the way for more partnerships between entities that are keen on research, development and innovation. This field has become an arena for creative competition worldwide as it contributes to shaping the future of smart and sustainable mobility in smart cities and communities. It will also raise the profile of Dubai at the top of smart global cities and transform it into the capital of innovation and technological advancement.”

“This agreement is a significant milestone in our ongoing collaboration. Neolix is a company from China that produces self-driving vehicles and aspires to lead the future smart city way of life with state-of-the-art technologies. I sincerely hope that with this agreement we will even strengthen our cooperative partnership. Let’s work together, working closely to meet the expectations and aspirations of more people and make Dubai smarter and more driverless,” said Jason Wang, Neolix UAE Manager.

Noon agreement

Mansoor Al Ghurair, Entrepreneur in Residence from Noon, said: “Known as a local digital commerce platform, Noon was established to serve and support companies and individuals in the United Arab Emirates. Our partnership with Neolix and the Rochester Institute of Technology in Dubai is a testament to our commitment to achieving the core goals for which Noon was founded. We are proud of this partnership, which will enable Noon to provide services at RIT campus in Dubai using innovative self-driving vehicles.”

Dr. Yousef Al-Assaf, President of the Rochester Institute of Technology in Dubai, said: “The DSO-based Rochester Institute of Technology-Dubai is keen on instilling a culture of innovation, entrepreneurship, and applied research, making it a comprehensive business environment for its students, partners, and the technology sector. We are also focused on forging partnerships with companies committed to supporting applied research that boost quality of life by finding innovative solutions. In that context, we have announced testing a self-driving vehicle for logistic purposes to be used within our campus, further advancing its technologies with the use of artificial intelligence, in collaboration with Neolix and Noon. This step highlights the role of universities as open labs for researching and developing smart future-proof technologies, linking exceptional students with specialised technology companies.”