Three agreements to develop self-driving technology unveiled at Dubai event

Entities involved in pacts include Careem, Kiwibot, Noon, Neolix, Majid Al Futtaim, Yandex and Rochester Institute of Technology

Welcome to the future – the 10-seat smart driverless car is tested by the Roads and Transport Authority in Business Bay, Dubai. Photo: RTA
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Three new agreements to develop innovative self-driving solutions were signed at the recent Dubai World Congress for Self-Driving Transport.

The first pact was signed between ride-hailing company Careem and technology firm Kiwibot to produce food and grocery delivery robots, state news agency Wam reported.

“Our mission is to make people’s everyday lives simpler … being at the forefront of the technology industry in the region, we are in a perfect position, alongside our partners, to introduce such an innovative and convenient feature to the food and grocery delivery space,” said Bassel Al Nahlaoui, Careem’s managing director of mobility.

The second agreement was made between retail company Majid Al Futtaim and Russia's biggest internet company Yandex to develop technology solutions to improve last-mile delivery on orders from retailer Carrefour.

Carrefour customers in select neighbourhoods across the UAE will be able to receive their online orders from Yandex robots. A pilot programme is set to start early next year.

Yandex’s autonomous vehicle technology can select the safest route in real-time, detect approaching vehicles and pedestrians, and travel at a speed of up to 8 kilometres per hour on sidewalks or other pedestrian areas, the Wam report said.

“We are excited to explore this innovative new last-mile solution to offer our customers greater flexibility, convenience and speed with their online orders,” said Majid Al Futtaim retail’s chief executive Hani Weiss.

The third contract was signed between Noon, an e-commerce platform; Neolix, a Chinese start-up developing autonomous delivery vehicles; and the Rochester Institute of Technology.

The agreement aims to offer self-driving logistical services on the institute's Dubai campus.

The Dubai World Congress for Self-Driving Transport created a global platform for companies, universities and research and development centres to run case scenarios and introduce self-driving transport technologies in the emirate, said Mattar Al Tayer, director general and chairman of Dubai Roads and Transport Authority’s executive directors board.

“It also contributes to broadening the use of autonomous transport means and encouraging entities to tackle the existing challenges,” he added.

The deals came after Dubai put in motion its 2040 Urban Plan, which aims to solve the challenges of a potential population increase from 3.3 million to 5.8 million over the next 20 years.

The emirate also aims to convert 25 per cent of total journeys in Dubai to self-driving transport by 2030.

In April, the authority signed an agreement with US company Cruise to introduce self-driving taxis in Dubai by 2023. Cruise Origin taxis operate without a driver and do not have a steering wheel.

The 15-year agreement will start small before expanding to eventually include thousands of taxis in Dubai.

Updated: November 02, 2021, 8:08 PM