The Abu Dhabi Investment Office and Mubadala Investment Company signed a preliminary agreement with Roborace to accelerate the development of the mobility sector by using autonomous technologies and metaverse infrastructure to facilitate faster and wider adoption of these innovations.
The agreement will build upon the emirate's innovation ecosystem, infrastructure and strategic assets. It will be supported by Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management, which will provide access to Yas Marina Circuit, and twofour54, the capital's media free zone, which will be a destination for production and office infrastructure for potential incorporation.
Roborace, the world’s first global championship for full-sized electric-powered autonomous race cars, will also consider the opportunity to establish its regional headquarters in Abu Dhabi.
The agreement was signed by Badr Al Olama, executive director for UAE investments at Mubadala Investment Company; Mohammed Al Dhaheri, head of infrastructure partnerships at Adio; and Chip Pankow, chief competition officer of Roborace.
“We are actively leading the innovation sector, shaping the industries of tomorrow. Through this strategic agreement, we aim to bring autonomous driving technology to the UAE and further develop autonomous driving systems and metaverse technologies and applications, laying the foundation of an exciting new sector in Abu Dhabi and aligned with our efforts to diversify the economy of the UAE," Mr Al Olama said on Friday.
The UAE is actively stepping up efforts to develop its mobility sector, with autonomous driving technologies being a key segment. Last month, the Cabinet approved a temporary licence to test self-driving vehicles on the country's roads; two weeks later, at the Abu Dhabi Smart City Summit, the UAE revealed its first fully-autonomous taxi under a project called TXAI.
In October, Abu Dhabi announced the launch of a dedicated artificial intelligence research centre, aiming to attract talent from around the world to work on emerging innovations, including autonomous technologies.
In Dubai, three agreements were signed to develop innovative self-driving solutions at last month's Dubai World Congress for Self-Driving Transport, involving prominent UAE entities including conglomerate Majid Al Futtaim, ride-hailing service Careem and e-commerce platform Noon.com.
The metaverse, meanwhile, is defined as a digital space that allows those in it to communicate and move virtually in their three-dimensional avatars or digital representations. The concept was significantly advanced when Facebook rebranded as Meta Platforms, and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said that the company would now be "metaverse-first".
The agreement between the three organisations is a testament to their commitment to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and they believe that AI, and the intersection of the physical and virtual worlds, will be crucial to shaping the future of industries and societies.
The agreement is fully aligned with Abu Dhabi’s approach to innovation and the emirate’s technology-related ambitions, Markus Thomas, head of investments at Adio, said.
"Crossing an innovative media and engagement platform with advanced simulation technology in the metaverse advances Abu Dhabi’s gaming agenda while building an access point for a global audience and automotive OEMs [original equipment manufacturers) alike. With our strategic Abu Dhabi partners, we are looking forward to making this possible," he said.
Roborace is exhibiting one of its autonomous racing cars – and Guinness World Records' fastest autonomous car – Robocar, at FutrWorld, which runs until Saturday at Manarat Al Saadiyat.