Will drones, such as the one pictured here during the RTA tests, be used to transport food in Dubai? Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Final tests have been held for the ‘Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport’ whose latest edition is devoted to self-driving logistics using ground transport means and drones.

Winners will be announced during the challenge’s ceremony at the end of October.

Mattar Mohammed Al Tayer, Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), attended part of the final tests of leading companies and academic institutions that had qualified for the challenge’s second cycle.

The tests were held recently at Dubai Silicon Oasis in the presence of Dr Mohammed Al Zarooni, Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA).

Al Tayer attended a briefing by Ahmed Hashim Bahrozyan, CEO of Public Transport Agency and Chairman of the Organsing Committee of the Dubai World Congress for Self-Driving Transport; and Khalid Al Awadhi, Director of Transportation Systems and Chairman of the Challenge Team.

Officials attending the final tests of contenders for the driverless logistics challenge Image Credit: Supplied

The briefing shed light on tests conducted over six weeks at three key places – university robots test track, university drones test area, and pioneers robots testing area.

Focus areas

RTA charted out several scenarios that included tests in the presence of fixed and moving obstacles, and virtual ones. Participants were evaluated based on safety, which included reliability, visibility handling, interaction with pedestrians, and speed control.

The second element was usability, which included speed, cargo safety and understandable behaviour.

The third element was the level of maturity and included passing the scenario and operator interaction, path planning, detection and prediction.

To the finals

Five companies participated in the tests of the pioneering company’s category: Neolix from China, ARTI from Austria, iAuto from Taiwan, Yandex from Russia, and Kiwi Bot from the US.

In the local university’s category, participants were New York University Abu Dhabi, Khalifa University of Science and Technology, Rochester University of Technology in Dubai, American University of Sharjah, University of Sharjah and University of Dubai.

Driverless transport

Al Tayer said: “Holding the [challenge] is part of RTA’s efforts to support the ‘Dubai Strategy for Self-Driving Transport’ launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, aimed to transform 25 per cent of total mobility journeys in Dubai into journeys aboard self-driving transport means by 2030.”

He added: “This global competition aims to expand the use of driverless transport at all levels and encourage leading companies and research institutions in this particular field to tackle the existing mobility challenges, such as the first and last-mile, congestions, and the low public transport ridership.”

Dispatches on the road

Studies indicated that Dubai hosts about 6,000 shipping and forwarding companies, Al Tayer said. About 64,000 trucks of various sizes make about 306,000 trips per day, accounting for about 13 per cent of the total daily mobility trips in Dubai. The dispatch of shipments in the first and last-mile across the city is amongst the key services that impact the economy in general. Therefore, he added, it is anticipated that new operation models or innovative vehicles will be developed for delivering goods in the first and last-mile in the near future.

City as a test lab

Dr Al Zarooni said: “Dubai is a global test lab, open for the world to pilot advanced technology and fourth industrial revolution solutions, as well as innovative artificial intelligence and smart transport. Dubai Silicon Oasis, as a technology and knowledge hub that drives innovation among the five urban centres of the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan, serves as a proof of concept for smart and sustainable transport for the future of Dubai and the UAE – hence our collaboration with the [RTA] in Dubai on the [challenge].