UAE’s first driverless taxi completes initial trial phase

More than 2,730 passengers booked rides on Yas Island last year

TXAI was the first driverless project to go ahead on a public road in the capital. Photo: TXAI
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TXAI, the UAE’s first fully driverless taxi service, completed its initial trial phase, with more than 2,730 passengers booking the service, according to G42 subsidiary Bayanat.

The public trials, which were fully compliant with regulations, took place on Abu Dhabi's Yas Island between November 23 and December 27, 2021, said the geospatial, data analytics and artificial intelligence company on Monday.

TXAI was the first self-driving project to be tested on a public road in the capital.

“We are committed to continuing to work closely with the UAE authorities to build innovative transport systems by making strategic investments across the smart mobility value chain,” said Bayanat chief executive Hasan Al Hosani.

Bayanat is currently working closely with its partners and the UAE authorities to launch the second phase of the TXAI programme. The phase is scheduled for launch by the middle of 2022 and will include 10 driverless taxis operating across various Abu Dhabi locations.

The fleet is composed entirely of electric and hybrid cars. More details about the service can be found on the app.

Bayanat and Abu Dhabi’s Department of Municipalities and Transport linked up in March last year to lead the development of driverless vehicles.

It also worked closely with the Integrated Transport Centre and Miral Asset Management to run the trial, which was first announced at the Abu Dhabi Smart City Summit in November last year.

The TXAI app can be downloaded through Apple Store and Google Play. More than 16,600 kilometres of autonomous driving was accomplished during phase one of the trial, Bayanat said.

Passengers in the initial trial phase could choose to go to nine locations on Yas Island – Ikea, Yas Beach, Yas Mall, Yas Marina, W Hotel, Warner Bros Abu Dhabi, Etihad Arena, Ferrari World, in addition to the water park. The full circuit was a 20km trip.

Trips were free during the trial and the company has yet to divulge the cost.

The top speed of the taxis was set at 90km an hour during the trial. However, the cars typically do not go above 65kph. A safety officer who sits in the driver's seat is there to intervene only if there is a problem.

Abu Dhabi residents can reserve rides by downloading the application and following the instructions that appear on screen. They have to be at one of the nine locations on Yas Island to book a trip, according to Mr Al Hosani.

WeRide, a self-driving technology provider, supplied TXAI with its full-stack software and hardware solutions, as well as operating and monitoring systems.

“WeRide is very excited to … bring industry-leading autonomous driving technologies and services to the UAE and the wider region. Together, we leverage the partnership to make greater impacts for a smart future,” said Tony Han, WeRide’s founder and chief executive.

WeRide launched China’s first robo-taxi service in 2019 in Guangzhou. It was the first start-up in the world to hold driverless test permits in both China and the US.

Updated: January 31, 2022, 11:01 AM