Officials during the inauguration of TRIP at the university Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) in Dubai has opened the Transportation Research and Innovation Pavilion (TRIP) in partnership with the University of Birmingham – Dubai.

Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for AI, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications; Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of RTA; and Huda Al Hashimi, Deputy Minister of Cabinet Affairs for Strategic Affairs, inaugurated TRIP on Monday.

TRIP aims to streamline the ongoing research efforts by focusing on infrastructure, urban planning and sustainability. It aspires to become a hub for hosting creative ideas and youth projects, supporting start-ups in marketing their innovations, spreading innovation culture, organising events that foster a work environment motivating creativity, familiarising with innovation programmes and accelerators, and publishing specialised scientific research in this field.

The potential use of robots in supplementing transport sector services is part of TRIP's work Image Credit: Supplied

Minister Al Olama emphasised that the UAE is keen to support innovation and innovators, and its strategic visions and future plans consolidate the qualitative and unique efforts of the research industry, which in turn enhances the UAE’s standing as a global host for innovations and start-ups. Such efforts aim to uplift these practices to the highest international levels and foster the UAE’s pioneering research innovations.”

“Advanced science and artificial intelligence technologies are critical for intensifying national efforts and forging scientific and research partnerships at the federal and local levels in support of the ‘UAE Innovates 2023’ initiatives. Such efforts contribute to grooming current generations to adopt robotic technologies as an integral part of creating new ideas and future technologies,” said Al Olama.

During a presentation about the new facility Image Credit: Supplied

Al Tayer stressed the importance of the centre and its contribution to creating innovative transport communities. He commended the centre’s role in developing smart mobility solutions that contribute to RTA’s vision, ‘The world leader in seamless & sustainable mobility’ and mission: ‘Provide seamless and safe travel with innovative, sustainable mobility solutions and services to make every journey in Dubai a world-class experience’, besides promoting the standing of Dubai as a global incubator for innovations and start-ups and developing innovative solutions to current and future transport challenges.

“The centre targets startups, governmental and non-governmental entities, academia, technology companies, innovation incubators and RTA’s key vendors,” said Al Tayer who also praised the partnership with the reputed University of Birmingham.

Huda Al Hashmi said: “The UAE leadership believes in the importance of adopting sustainability as a pillar of innovations and specialised research. She stressed the UAE government’s keenness to promote a culture of innovation by launching targeted initiatives in cooperation with local government agencies.

“The opening of RTA’s Mobility Research and Innovation Centre contributes to strengthening the UAE’s position as a global hub for sustainable innovation. It reflects the message of ‘UAE Innovates 2023’, which focuses on sustainability, and seeks to translate the directives of leaders to build the capabilities of qualified human resources, support start-ups operating in the field of mobility, and launch initiatives focused on spreading the culture of innovation across the board,” she added.

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Opening ceremony

The opening ceremony included a mural displaying RTA’s prominent innovative achievements since its establishment, and an overview of the centre covering its purpose and operation plan. It also included a presentation illustrating Talabat project, the pilot launch of autonomous food delivery robots known as (talabots) and the delivery of orders to guests attending the opening ceremony. It also featured presentations by five metaverse companies where technology was employed in urban planning, providing services, and responding to customer inquiries.

The launch ceremony also included a presentation of robots and uses compatible with RTA’s services in monitoring violating vehicles, occupied parking spaces, recharging parking balances, etc. There was also a presentation about 3D printing technology and its use in manufacturing some spare parts for the Rail Agency and raising operational efficiency. A presentation was made by the university for an R&D project for the use of robotics in digging tunnels, presentations of some start-ups and the idea of challenging start-ups. A presentation was also made about a success story of a start-up that developed the Bus On Demand service and reviewed the cooperation aspects with RTA.

Partnership agreement

Al Olama, Al Tayer, and Huda Al Hashemi attended the signing of a partnership agreement between RTA and the Global Innovation Management Institute (GIMI) which aims to establish the first regional innovation community (Innova Community), which will be the first of its kind in the region in the field of mobility transport research and innovation.

During the signing ceremony Image Credit: Supplied

Hussein Al Banna, CEO of Strategy and Corporate Governance Sector signed on behalf of RTA, and Dr Hitendra Patel, Executive Director of GIMI, signed on behalf of the Institute.

Supporting ideas

The officials toured the centre and listened to a briefing from Al Banna about the Centre, which aims to support RTA’s efforts in research and development and embrace creative ideas of Emirati youth, accelerate cooperation with start-ups, and create innovative transport communities.

The briefing included the centre’s role in supporting new innovative ideas, capacity building, holding conferences, seminars, exhibitions and workshops both in person or online, and reviewing innovative global transport experiences. It also covered hosting emerging innovative ideas and projects through the innovation incubator and accelerators programme, promoting international competitions, supporting emerging companies and providing resources that promote innovative ideas.

Future plans

Fatima Al Mandoos, Director of Innovation and Pioneering at RTA’s Strategy and Corporate Governance Sector, said the activities undertaken by RTA demonstrate its intention to move from the current “Global Leadership” to the projected stage: “Global Impact”.

“The centre, which was established at world-class standards, had developed plans for the set-up and launch stage, which covers employing qualified human resources and developing business and partnership models. Then comes the stage of providing innovation and research services, business incubation and supporting transport start-ups. It is followed by the transformation and change stage under a three-year plan aimed to achieve local and global recognition of the centre and its research contributions and innovative transformative transport projects.

UAE Innovates

RTA’s Innovation and Pioneering Department organised an array of initiatives and events marking the Innovation Month 2023, which is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, under the theme: “UAE Innovates 2023” in the attendance of several leaders from RTA’s sectors and agencies.

Additionally, several brainstorming sessions were held for university students together with a host of events related to innovation and sustainability. Discussions covered developing new ideas and motivating employees to innovate. A presentation was made for RTA’s prominent innovative infrastructure projects along with the challenges, future directions, and innovative business models.

Among the initiatives carried out and still undertaken by RTA are Innovation Accelerators, Innovation and Future Hour, and Coffee with a Leader besides offering an opportunity for students, entrepreneurs, startups, researchers and specialists to chat with RTA’s leaders, and identify challenges, future directions and innovation in business models under discussion. The Startup Challenge initiative offers an opportunity for entrepreneurs and startups to show their innovations to a jury consisting of RTA’s experts, and representatives of investment and funding agencies for startups to compare and filter them according to specific criteria to select the Top 3 companies and support them.

RTA’s initiatives during the Month of Innovation 2023 also include Students Ideas Factory where various activities and events targeting university students, academics and researchers will be presented to provide solutions related to proactive customer services, environmental sustainability and climate change. An initiative rolled out in partnership with the Mohammed bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation, which opens the door for the public to present innovative ideas and solutions to future challenges. Moreover, RTA will also showcase its innovative sustainability projects at the Global Village.