Sharjah deploys smart taxis to improve services

  • August 15, 2022
  • Steve Rogerson

UAE-based Sharjah Taxi is using artificial intelligence to improve vehicle operations and safety in what it claims are the first-of-its-kind smart taxis in the Middle East.

Sharjah Taxi, a subsidiary of Sharjah Asset Management, the investment arm of the government of Sharjah, has launched the smart taxi to harness artificial intelligence services to be used in vehicle operations and safety.

The 1.5 million population Sharjah is the third-most populous city in the UAE.

The move aims to raise the level of services provided to the public, in accordance with global standards of security and safety.

The smart vehicles have been equipped with sensors, cameras, a mobile data unit, and other devices connected to an integrated system, with the aim to continue developing work and control mechanisms. The hope is the technology will contribute to increasing operational efficiency, and provide an integrated network of systems to report instant and accurate information related to transportation movement.

Khalid Al Kindi, executive director of Sharjah Taxi, said intelligent transportation systems applied modern technologies in the areas of monitoring, information collection, control and means of communication, and used the full carrying capacity of road networks and other means of transportation.

The system helps regulate flow of traffic, facilitate access to key places, monitor driver behaviour, mitigate erroneous practices, and reduce meter manipulations. As a result, the number of trips and total wasted kilometres are reduced, ultimately reducing the rate of road accidents and environmental pollution, while raising operational efficiency. The company also benefits through a reduction in operational costs.

Al-Kindi said the launch of the smart vehicle would result in an important package of outputs, most notably of which was monitoring driver behaviour. The aim here is to analyse the causes and circumstances leading to erroneous practices, such as the use of mobile phones while driving, driving under the influence of alcohol, drowsiness and fatigue, or preoccupation with anything other than the road.

Technical equipment inside the vehicle enables the collection of various data including vehicle temperature and electronic parts condition. This enables remote monitoring of the vehicle, allowing real-time interventions and appropriate actions as soon as possible.

The control panel to follow driver work and operating efficiency indicators was set up for Sharjah Taxi’s operations department to take immediate appropriate action upon the occurrence of any adverse event. This was also done to avoid any misuse of the vehicle by drivers. It contains clear, readable and diverse visuals that work together on one screen and several specialised screens.

The equipment provides an interactive display of data, providing insights for quick decision-making, characterised by a coherent design and clear graphs, that help the designated employee perform their duties.

In the recently opened control centre, the operations of nearly 750 taxis are managed in Sharjah city, Sharjah International Airport and in the eastern region. The centre monitors drivers’ wrong practices, directs them to safe practices, educates them, and ensures their commitment and adherence to work regulations.

The Sharjah taxi fleet comprises 760 vehicles, including 96 vehicles for the eastern and central regions, 160 vehicles for Sharjah International Airport, 20 vehicles designated for women and families in Sharjah city and airport, ten luxury limousines, and additional vehicles for people with disabilities.

Sharjah is developing intelligent traffic management capabilities with Austrian firm Kapsch TrafficCom. The central control system will help provide improved traffic flow and shorter travel times to drivers across most of the city and increase the safety of citizens. Additionally, a traffic control centre will give the city the ability to manage traffic in a comprehensive and coordinated way directly across 48 key junctions all over the city.