Abu Dhabi signs deals with 25 global companies to join its smart transport cluster

Exclusive: The new companies span across sectors including autonomous vehicles, underwater drones, robotics and artificial intelligence, Adio executive says

A drone developed to carry packages on display at the Smart and Autonomous Vehicle Industry cluster, a strategic Abu Dhabi initiative for the future of transportation. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Powered by automated translation

Abu Dhabi has signed agreements with 25 global companies to join its newly established cluster for the development of high-tech vehicles over the next three months, as part of the emirate's push into advanced manufacturing and sustainable mobility.

The companies joining the Smart and Autonomous Vehicle Industry (Savi) cluster in Masdar City specialise in autonomous taxis, underwater drones, robotic installations and artificial intelligence, Massimo Falcioni, chief competitiveness officer at the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (Adio), told The National, on Tuesday.

The 25 companies signed on by Adio are from Korea, China and the US, he said on the sidelines of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad)'s World Investment Forum in Abu Dhabi.

These are in addition to the six companies that were announced earlier this week, bringing the total to more than 30 companies at Savi.

Together they represent "several tens of millions of dollars" in investment from the diverse companies ranging from start-ups to large, well-established manufacturers, Mr Falcioni said.

"To be a smart city you will need a lot more usage of this kind of autonomous transportation, reducing CO2 emissions because these vehicles optimise routes and integrating data between the vehicle and the passenger," he said.

"So this is an important step by Abu Dhabi towards becoming a smart city."

On October 16, Adio said it signed deals with commercial helicopter operator Abu Dhabi Aviation and Chinese electric vehicle brand Neta Auto to join Savi. It also announced a partnership with California-based aircraft company Archer Aviation to start all-electric air taxi operations in the UAE in 2026.

On October 15, Adio said it signed agreements with California-based electric aircraft maker Joby Aviation, Chinese autonomous vehicle start-up WeRide and the UAE's unmanned maritime systems company Marakeb Technologies to join the high-tech cluster.

"I will not be surprised in no more than 12 to 18 months to see to see big, big development of autonomous vehicles," Mr Falcioni said.

A look inside Abu Dhabi's new Tesla taxis

A look inside Abu Dhabi's new Tesla taxis

The Masdar City-based cluster, which was announced on October 13, will develop smart and autonomous vehicles for air, land and sea use.

It is expected to contribute between Dh90 billion ($24.5 billion) and Dh120 billion ($32.7 billion) to the UAE's economy and generate up to 50,000 jobs, officials said last week.

The move comes as the UAE strives to increase the contribution of its industrial sector to the gross domestic product, develop advanced technologies in manufacturing, introduce smart mobility into the mainstream market and work on sustainable transport systems.

Updated: October 17, 2023, 4:30 PM