Canadian University Dubai Solar car
A team of engineering students at the Canadian University Dubai (CUD) is helping shape the future of renewable transport by making a solar-powered autonomous vehicle. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Taking a cue from the UAE’s ambitious plans for autonomous and eco-friendly transportation, a group of university students in Dubai has built a self-driving car powered exclusively by solar energy.

The 22-member undergraduate engineering students from Canadian University Dubai (CUD) are driving the future of urban transportation with the creation of the autonomous car which they plan to use for transport between CUD’s two City Walk campus buildings.


Battery capacity: 20Ah
Voltage: 60V
Current: 55A.
Charging time: 22 minutes

The innovative vehicle is the culmination of a year’s worth of teamwork across a multi-disciplinary group of 22 senior students from the university’s School of Engineering, Applied Science and Technology, the university said on Monday.

5 technical groups

It was developed as part of their graduation programme. Five groups collaborated on the project, each responsible for a particular aspect of the manufacturing process.

The first team engineered the steering and braking of the car, while the second team led the body shell design, material selection, and suspension system development.

The third team was tasked with the central processing design, managing the vehicle’s controls, as well as handling the inputs received from the camera and Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) system sensors, which serve as main data input for the car’s core intelligence.

A fourth team developed the vehicle’s smart navigation, configuring the LIDAR and camera system to ensure precise obstacle detection and avoidance.

The fifth team was responsible for the supply of power to all of the car’s on-board electronic devices, utilising the photovoltaic panel installed on the vehicle’s roof.

This was achieved through a uniquely designed power conditioner that charges the traction battery, delivering a 60-volt power supply to the vehicle.


Speaking about the ambitious collaborative effort, Feras Ahmed Usmani, a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, Mechatronics student said: “The greatest challenge was the merging of all the systems into one cohesive car that met our project requirements.

“For example, ensuring the integration of the steering system and enabling the Central Processing Unit to receive commands from the control centres. The guidance from our professors, effective student teamwork, and strong engineering skills were fundamental to the success of all the car’s developments.”

Real-world project

Fellow mechatronics major, Malak Osama, added: “Working within such a diverse team has clearly demonstrated to me how we are interdependent upon one another to optimise the functionality of a product.

“My programming and engineering skills have become enhanced over the duration of the project through research, data configuration, working on different software and redefining various systems. During my current internship, I find myself applying what I learned during this project at CUD.”

Among the faculty supervising the project was Dr Salih Rashid Majeed, assistant professor in CUD’s School of Engineering, Applied Science and Technology, who said: “The students have become equipped with valuable interpersonal skills and technical expertise. The practical application of their theoretical knowledge to this real-world project is remarkable and life-changing for their futures. The project facilitated a deeper understanding of the true essence of engineering and the significance of teamwork among the students.”

As the UAE Cabinet recently announced the first licence of its kind for self-driving vehicles, Feras is anticipating the future journey of CUD’s first-ever car.

He said: “While the car is currently on display at CUD and undergoing some final adjustments, we are also exploring external collaborations to utilise the vehicle as a means of transportation between CUD’s two City Walk buildings.”

Pioneering projects in UAE

On July 3, the UAE Cabinet chaired by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, issued the first licence for self-driving vehicles to run on the country’s roads. The licence has been granted to WeRide company, which will test different types of autonomous vehicles.

Days prior to this, the Integrated Transport Centre (ITC) in Abu Dhabi launched free autonomous taxi rides for Eid visitors at Saadiyat and Yas Islands.

The service was offered by “Txai” which previously completed a trial phase using electric and hybrid vehicles.

Meanwhile, Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) is mapping roads to pave the way for self-driving taxis in the emirate.

RTA and US company Cruise have joined forces to run the maiden autonomous taxi service in the city. By 2030, RTA seeks to deploy 4,000 autonomous vehicles, making Dubai the first non-US city to commercialise Cruise self-driving cars.

The roll-out of autonomous vehicles will alleviate traffic congestion, lower the number of traffic accidents, and cut harmful emissions.

Canadian University Dubai
The Canadian University Dubai (also known as CUD), was established in 2006 as a private institution. CUD imparts knowledge using Canadian curriculum. In 2021, the university unveiled a new campus in City Walk, right in the centre of Dubai.