RTA DIEZ and talabat UAE announce piloting autonomous delivery robots33-1676459010696
Food delivery robots 'talabots' are ready to deliver food at shopping mall in Dubai Silicon Oasis Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Dubai has introduced food delivery robots as part of drive to promote smart and driverless mode of transport to achieve zero emissions targets.

The Roads Transport Authority (RTA) in partnership with Dubai Integrated Economic Zones Authority (DIEZ) and talabat UAE, on Wednesday announced the pilot launch of autonomous food delivery robots, also known as “talabots”, in Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO), revolutionising sustainable last-mile delivery in the UAE.

This is part of the entities’ joint efforts to employ advanced technology and encourage the use of zero-emission modes of delivery while enhancing efficiency, which is in line with Dubai’s efforts to switch 25 per cent of all transportation trips in Dubai to be smart and driverless by 2030.

The pilot phase will see the introduction of three “talabots” to serve Cedre Villas residents, a gated community in the heart of DSO, the integrated free zone technology park, which is a member of DIEZ. Designed for high efficiency and harmonious urban living, the “talabots” will travel within a 3km radius from the Cedre shopping Centre launch point, to ensure a speedy 15-minute delivery time.

The launch of autonomous delivery robots is part of ambitions to support riders in the next generation of sustainable delivery by having robots cover short-distance deliveries to increase efficiency, fleet optimisation and reduce carbon emissions.

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Leading Partnerships

Dr Juma Al Matrooshi

Dr Juma Al Matrooshi, Director General of Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO), said: “Smart mobility is one of the six pillars of DSO’s Smart City Strategy, which is at the core of piloting carbon-neutral delivery robots in a closely monitored and controlled environment within the hi-tech park. We look forward to the success of this trial, and its expansion as part of DSO’s role as an innovation- and knowledge hub under the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan.”

Al Matrooshi added: “Our partnership with the public and private sectors yields new opportunities in different industries and supports sustainable development and accelerates the achievement of the strategic initiative UAE Net Zero by 2050. This supports building up a sustainable and smart socioeconomic environment that instils Dubai’s and the wider UAE’s statuses as a preferred destination to live, work, invest, innovate, and test smart technologies of the future.”

Promoting innovation

Ahmed Bahrozyan

Ahmed Bahrozyan, Chief Executive Officer at the RTA’s Public Transport Agency, said: “This step is in line with the RTA’s strategy to promote innovation, integration, innovative mobility, and relevant skills and expertise, in addition to providing the private sector with the tools needed to adopt autonomous mobility services in its operational processes. This ensures providing added value for customers, in accordance with the effort of Dubai and the UAE in this regard.”

Bahrozyan emphasised that RTA is eager to expand its partnerships with the private sector in collaboration with local partners, with the aim of spreading the culture of innovation in the transportation sector, along with integrating such innovations into its operations, to achieve the emirate’s vision in this sphere.

Innovative concepts

Muammar Al Katheeri, Chief Officer Engineering & Smart City at DIEZ, said: “The pilot of autonomous delivery robots in DSO, in partnership with RTA and talabat, is part of DIEZ’s keenness to implement innovative concepts that support the smart city strategy of Dubai. It also contributes to realising the vision of positioning Dubai as the smartest city by imagining the future, designing it, and executing it, as well as testing environment-friendly technologies to reduce carbon emissions in line with 2023 being the Year of Sustainability. Through this partnership, we aim to provide innovative, safe, and feasible solutions for delivery and logistical services through autonomous transport, the demand for which is increasing in Dubai.”

Monumental leap

Tatiana Rahal

Commenting on the ground-breaking launch, Tatiana Rahal, Managing Director at talabat UAE, said: “A monumental leap towards the future of online food delivery and smart mobility, we are excited and proud to unveil our fleet of talabots, which witnessed great success when they were first introduced in Expo 2020 Dubai, to offer sustainable and seamless delivery experiences to residents in DSO

"We share this success with our exceptional partners and experts in their fields — RTA and DIEZ who helped us facilitate the next chapter of digital transformation in this space. Looking forward, talabat continues to embolden UAE’s position as a global front-runner in game-changing technologies that will drive a positive impact on the nation’s economy, environment and people.

RTA DIEZ and talabat UAE announce piloting autonomous delivery robots-1676459007708
Robots will transport orders from the nearest restaurant partners to the residential neighbourhood of Cedre Villas in Dubai Silicon Oasis, meeting customers at their doorstep. Image Credit: Supplied

Self-Driving Transport

This milestone is a direct result of the Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport, organised by RTA annually and DSO hosted the tests for candidates, specifically the second round, which was under the topic of: “Self-driving Logistical Services” which includes ground transport and drones.

It is also part of the RTA’s ambitions of expanding the deployment of self-driving transport at all levels by enabling and empowering leading companies in the sector as self-driving transport plays a fundamental pillar of RTA’s strategy. In recent years, the RTA has launched several innovative projects aimed at making self-driving transport a tangible reality in Dubai.

AI-powered transport

In line with UAE regulations to protect the community’s privacy as a top priority, the AI technology deployed in the talabots safeguards people’s identity by blurring faces with no facial recognition detection feature. Moreover, to blend in peacefully within the community and for ease-of-mind of customers, the talabots are fitted with various inbuilt sensors and state-of-the-art algorithms that can intelligently gauge surroundings and detect barriers in their pathway, keeping a safe distance from toddlers and pets.

How it works

Employing the latest in advanced artificial intelligence for point-to-point food delivery, the robots will transport orders from the nearest restaurant partners to the residential neighbourhood of Cedre Villas, meeting customers at their doorstep. With talabat’s app interface fully integrated, customers will be able to track the robot’s journey and will be notified through the app when it arrives at their property. Once arrived, the customer can unlock the secure compartment by following the steps provided within the talabat app.