Careem offers driverless pods as vision of future mass-transit at GITEX

The car booking service says its pods can connect to form train-like structures that can autonomously transport people around cities.

Careem showcased driverless pods at Gitex 2016, in partnership with Next Future Transportation as part of the Dubai Smart Government initiative.  Courtesy Traccs UAE
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DUBAI // Car-booking service Careem showcased driverless pods at Gitex 2016.

Careem said the pods are part of the Dubai Smart Government Initiative, launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai. Dubai aims to make 25 per cent of all trips in the emirate smart and driverless by 2030.

The pods are electric, driverless and can move individually or by attaching themselves to other pods to form a train-like vehicle that allows passengers to move freely from one pod to another.

The self-driving pods are designed to operate as a mass-transportation system whereby passengers can conveniently be picked up on demand and dropped off at different locations, as the pods link and detach accordingly, creating an efficient, safe and environmentally friendly mode of transport.

“As one of the fastest-growing tech startups in the Mena region, Careem prides itself on innovation and, therefore, this strategic partnership with a forward-thinking company such as Next is nothing short of incredible,” said Bassel Al Nahloui, the vice president of business development and government relations at Careem.

“Our pods are currently in the R&D phase and, within a year, we will be launching the test phase, whereby fully functional prototypes will be tested in restricted areas.”

Careem, which launched in 2012, recently teamed up with the RTA to make public transport more accessible by eventually making it available on their apps.

“We have invented the world’s finest autonomous mass-transit solution, and as we look to operationalise, we need a partner that will provide operational depth and scale,” said Emmanuele Spera, founder and chief executive of Next Future Transportation. “Careem is a perfect partner from our perspective given their vision, credibility and success in transforming transportation across the Mena region.

“We look forward to continuing our journey to bring advanced transportation technologies and practices to the region.”