By Shane McGinley
Google had already clocked 1 million km testing driverless vehicles
Computer-driven cars will change the face of global
transportation and offer a safer, more efficient option for motorists,
according to transport experts.
Speaking at the UAE Government Summit on Monday,
Brad Templeton, faculty member of Singularity University in California’s
Silicon Valley, said “the technology is here - it is a chance for programmers
to change the world”.
The forum heard cars of the future will have
360-degree vision and will be self-fuelling and self-driving. They will also
cause fewer accidents and reduce congestion by 15 times, with the time spent
driving also reduced.
“The computer will know when to refuel and the
passenger doesn’t need to worry about it," Templeton said.
He said Google had already clocked 1 million
kilometres in its driverless vehicles. “If one country doesn’t make this legal,
others will,” he said.
In 2005, Dubai recorded 22 accidents per 100,000
people, which cost the Emirate AED4bn ($1.09bn). However, this has been reduced
to six accidents per 100,000 people.
Mattar Al Tayer, chairman and executive director of
Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), who was also speaking on the transportation panel at the summit, said this was the result of
robust infrastructure and new laws and regulations.
“When it comes to transportation infrastructure and
mobility policies, it is very costly,” he said. “We can use low-cost
transportation to solve traffic problems by focusing on public transportation,
such as maritime, buses and metro. Any country without infrastructure will fail
at an economic level.”
The RTA head also outlined four major transport
initiatives that will be rolled out to support increased demand in the run up
to Dubai Expo 2020, which is expected to host 25 million visitors over six
Al Tayer said international consultants have been
appointed to examine the existing infrastructure in the Emirates and to extend
the Dubai Metro’s red line to Al Maktoum International Airport. As well, there
are plans to appoint consultants to advise on crowd management, increasing the
fleets of buses and taxis and the creation of a unified control centre for the
entire infrastructure network.
“Since 2005, Dubai has spent AED7 billion on
infrastructure,” Al Tayer said. “The Dubai Metro, which is driverless, is doing
very well and carries 50,000 passengers each day. In 2005, six per cent of the
population used public transport and now it is 12 per cent. We are aiming for
20 per cent [of Dubai’s population using public transport] by 2020.”
WiFi is currently available on the metro and will
be available in taxis in the future as a way of encouraging people to leave
their cars at home and adopt public transport.
In addition to the extension of the Red Line, the
RTA is also developing Al Sufouh Tram which will be complete in November 2014
and also expects to introduce electric cars and maritime transport in the
future, said Al Tayer.