Abu Dhabi transport bosses have unveiled a new self-driving shuttle bus and hailed it as an historic moment in the UAE’s history.
The Navya Autonom Shuttle, launched in Masdar City yesterday, can hit speeds of 25kmph and can carry 12 people at a time.
It uses cameras and sensors to detect obstacles and can even communicate with traffic lights.
The first shuttle will soon be in operation in Masdar City, with plans to roll out seven further shuttles in the capital next year.
Mohammed Darwish Al Qamzi, General Manager of Integrated Transport Center, Department of Transport in Abu Dhabi (DoT), said: “The arrival of autonomous mobility at Masdar has been the result of a highly successful collaboration between the DoT, Masdar and NAVYA, which has further raised the profile of Abu Dhabi as leader in environmental best practice and sustainable urban development.
“Today’s launch supports Abu Dhabi’s strategic aim to realize a world-class transportation system for the benefit of both residents and visitors, unlocking in the process further social and economic gains for the emirate of Abu Dhabi and the UAE.”
Officials believe the new technology will help reduce the number of accidents on Abu Dhabi's roads, the majority of which are down to human error.
The shuttle route map will soon be expanded to connect the Etihad Eco Residence complex above the city’s North Car Park with the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and Majid Al Futtaim’s My City Centre Masdar shopping mall due for completion in the first half of 2019.
Yousef Baselaib, executive director for Sustainable Real Estate at Masdar, said: “Masdar City is built on the three pillars of economic, societal and environmental sustainability and the introduction of our first Navya vehicle perfectly illustrates this philosophy in action.
“Masdar is building on its legacy as a catalyst for clean-tech innovation to bring cutting-edge and commercially viable autonomous mobility to the streets.”
Mr Badeslaib hailed the shuttle as a natural follow-up to a similar driverless pods scheme in Masdar City that have carried more than two million passengers around the city over the last eight years.