Abu Dhabi makes smart transport progress

  • August 16, 2023
  • William Payne

Abu Dhabi has announced major progress on its flagship smart transport project. The project provides advanced mobility solutions to over 5,000 registered users across two islands within the emirate, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. Progress in this project has been accompanied by the establishment of an urban digital twin across the emirate.

The city smart transport project aims at developing an environment-friendly and sustainable transport sector across the emirate.

The smart transport project on Yas and Saadiyat Islands currently includes a fleet of 8 TXAI autonomous vehicles, the first fully automated self-driving taxis in the UAE. Initially launched with 5 TXAIs in November 2021, and enhanced with 3 more vehicles in November 2022, these 8 Robotaxis have revolutionised local transportation and gained increasing popularity.

With over 5,000 registered users, the autonomous vehicles have successfully fulfilled 17,000 passenger journeys, providing safer and more convenient transportation options to residents and visitors alike. In addition to the Robotaxis, the sustainable project incorporates four mini Robobuses that were introduced to the local transport services in November 2022. These minibuses are designed to provide efficient and eco-friendly transportation solutions, further enhancing the mobility options available on the islands.

Speaking on the accelerated programme, Mohamed Ali Al Shorafa, Chairman of the Department of Municipalities and Transport, said: “The smart transport project is a crucial component of Abu Dhabi’s smart transport strategy, which aims to adopt smart and sustainable transport solutions driven by knowledge and innovation. This initiative aligns with Abu Dhabi’s future vision of developing smart cities and achieving sustainable growth in the emirate. By collaborating with strategic partners from the government and private sectors, the DMT and ITC are working towards establishing a smart, integrated, and sustainable transport system that fulfils the futuristic vision set by our wise leadership.”

Al Shorafa added, “The project sets the scene for a new stage of developing an environment-friendly and sustainable transport sector in the emirate, which encourages more investment in the economy and tourism, especially as the transport sector is one of the most important drivers of growth that supports businesses and adds to the competitive advantage for economic activities in many other sectors.”

The Cabinet of the United Arab Emirates recently approved a national policy for electric vehicles, which encompasses the establishment of a nationwide network of electric vehicle chargers, regulations for the electric vehicle market, and incentives to stimulate related industries. This policy aims to reduce emissions, energy consumption, and maintain the quality of UAE roads.

WeRide, a Chinese autonomous vehicle company, has been granted the first national-level autonomous driving license, allowing them to conduct various road tests and autonomous driving operations across the UAE.

The Autonomous Rapid Transit (ART) efforts are accompanied by the development of Abu Dhabi’s “Digital Twin” system, an integrated platform facilitating advanced digital simulations and providing technical infrastructure services supported by the cloud computing system T100. This system streamlines data storage and processing through integrated operating systems.

The autonomous vehicles will be undergoing another series of rigorous testing by the ITC in the course of the upcoming months, during which the performance of the vehicles will be assessed under high passenger loading condition in the summer weather. In parallel, the ITC are looking into upscaling autonomous vehicle operations and the concomitant legislations and regulations that need to be put in place in order to ensure their safe and successful operations in the emirate.

According to a spokesperson for the company, “WeRide has been actively expanding its autonomous driving products and services internationally. Middle East is one of our key target markets. This March, we officially established our Middle East office in the China-UAE Industrial Capacity Cooperation Demonstration Zone. Obtaining this very first national-level license will for sure speed up and scale up our local development”.

Abu Dhabi’s smart digitalisation strategy aligns with the UAE’s Sustainable Development Goals, contributing to the reduction of carbon emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement and the UAE’s vision for Net Zero 2050, the strategic initiative to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, making the United Arab Emirates the first Middle East and North Africa (MENA) nation to do so, leveraging both public and private sector coordinated efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5° C compared to pre-industrial levels.

The UAE is preparing to host COP28 later this year. The emirate is determined to incorporate new and practical solutions across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to cement its role as a major contributor to sustainable transportation and a leading proponent of environmental preservation and climate change mitigation.