Robots and Self-Driving Cars: How UAE is Gearing up for the Transport Revolution?

The world is witnessing a revolution in transport technology with driverless cars and all-electric vehicles being featured in model cities and countries. UAE, being the leader in tech adoption, is all embraced for driverless cars. Recently, an autonomous shuttle vehicle service was launched in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi. The UAE government’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has gone high-tech with its soon-to-be-launched vehicle inspection system. Let us first find out more about the new transport tech being launched in UAE and how the government is working to incorporate them into laws.

RTA Vehicle Inspection Robots

UAE’s RTA yet again unveiled a next-gen system for vehicle inspection at the 38th Gitex Technology Week. Committed to making road experience convenient for its users with the technology, RTA has launched a series of smart initiatives for better transport services. This project is aimed at checking the vehicle through robots without any human interference.

This program is still in its pilot phase and the authority is planning to install it at petrol stations or major public locations for access of the motorists. The idea behind installing them at public points is so that people could use them to detect faults in their cards. This will help car owners avoid any potential breakdown. Another advantage of this system would be the people will be aware of the health of their vehicles so they don’t have to take their cars to the workshops to check faults.

But the question remains, how would they work? Primarily, the robots will interact with the motorists directly. The RTA staff will not intervene in this. This will allow a motorist to follow some SOPs to access the fault detection service.

Once the car owner has selected the desired service on the robot’s interactive screen, the robot will prompt you to enter your debit or credit card to pay for the service. Once the payment is processed, a dongle from the robot will be inserted to the car to diagnose the problem in the vehicle. The dongle will read the car’s system and find the faults. The dongle is then removed and inserted in the robot to assess the data. This data is then sent to the owner’s email ID in the form of a certificate.

Autonomous Cars

RTA is also expected to introduce autonomous taxi service which will be operated without a driver. RTA also unveiled self-driving vehicle concept at the Gitex Technology Week.

The capabilities of the car were also demonstrated in this exhibition. This taxi service will be on trial at Dubai Silicon Oasis. The vehicle selected for this purpose is Mercedes E-Class which will come with full autonomous attributes. However, the trials will be conducted without the passengers. This vehicle will be designed to run at 35km/h during the trials. The speed has been kept low to make sure the other road users remain safe.

This vehicle is equipped with multiple cameras and sensors. It can detect obstructions around it and is capable of operating in all traffic conditions. This vehicle will be tried and tested for three months with various situations before allowing trials with passengers.

Virtual Assistant

Dubai residents have a new ‘mehboob’ now. As part of the continued tech rebranding of the RTA, the authority will soon be introducing a virtual assistant for the users to answer their RTA related queries. Mehboob is the name given to this virtual assistant.

This platform is based on artificial intelligence. It is currently live on the RTA official website. But it will soon be available on RTA official mobile app. This system will also be used in the robots and deployed in the customer care centres in Dubai.

So what can Mehboob do for you? Mehboob is a super assistant which is capable of interacting with hundreds of people and answering their queries simultaneously. More than 90 services are currently added to this virtual assistant and more will be added. People can ask this assistant about the metro and bus timings. It can also be used for booking taxis and pay fines. Mehboob will also assist the citizens by processing vehicle registration and sundry licensing services.

All Good?  

While all this is quite ambitious, the real concern is who will be liable for any mistakes by the robots or for the accidents caused by autonomous cars? This is the main question that the authorities in UAE must work on. There are many lacunae in the legal framework concerning these questions about the driverless cars. People across the globe have to sit together to make laws concerning this technology. Another issue is that though the driverless cars are a reality now, no regulator has approved these cars to run on the public roads so far. The technology will still take time to mature before it is adopted on a larger scale. Meanwhile, selling your present car won’t be a good idea. Wait for the revolution to kick-off!