Dubai's RTA plans dedicated lanes to test driverless buses

Emirate is working on new maps for the city, laws on autonomous vehicles
(Image: Twitter/RTA)
By Parag Deulgaonkar
Sun 12 Mar 2017 09:42 AM

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) plans to test driverless buses on dedicated lanes in the near future, a senior government official has said.

The state-owned entity conducted the test run of driverless cars in Downtown Dubai last year, and is expecting to introduce autonomous flying vehicles, provided it is certified “safe and secure” by July.

“In the first phase, the [public] buses will be autonomous, but with a driver sitting which is similar to what you see with companies such as Google. The driver is not the car but sitting there for precaution,” Ahmad Hashem Behroozian, chief executive officer, RTA's Licensing Agency, told Arabian Business.

“But as the technology evolves, you can expect a bus without a driver and without steering in the future. Remember, the shuttle bus in Downtown Dubai had no steering and no driver. We just had somebody standing in there to make people comfortable, but it was not necessary.”

The official revealed that the autonomous buses will not be really merging with traffic in the first two years and will have their own dedicated lanes with sensors and cameras controlling the direction of the bus and it being able to stop during emergency situations.

He did not given any timeframe on when these driverless buses will be put into service.

“As a city we have to be ready. We need to work on enablers/building blocks such as mapping of the city, laws and regulations for autonomous vehicles, and public awareness. The trials, we had earlier, were part of this public awareness programme,” Behroozian said.

Last week, Behroozian told Arabian Business that Dubai wants Tesla, Google and Uber to test their driverless cars on its roads.

The RTA has said that Dubai autonomous mobility strategy 2030 is expected to result in savings of $6 billion (AED22 billion) per annum, reduce the mobility expenditure by 44 percent, curb demand for parking by 50 percent, reduce carbon emissions by 12 percent and limit traffic accidents and associated losses by 12 percent.

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