Noon.com is teaming up with Chinese technology company Neolix to test driverless vehicles designed to make last-mile deliveries in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, according to the Dubai e-commerce platform.
"Over the next few weeks, Noon.com will trial autonomous vehicles to complete its last-mile delivery in key areas of Abu Dhabi and Dubai," the company said in a statement on Tuesday. "The driverless vans are being especially customised to suit the region’s weather conditions, and are being seamlessly integrated with Noon’s logistics platform."
The Beijing start-up began mass production of its self-driving delivery vans in May and has also lined up Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com and the country's biggest technology company, Huawei, as customers, Bloomberg reported. Neolix expects to deliver 1,000 of the vehicles, which resemble a large freezer on wheels and cost $30,000 each (Dh110,175), within the first year of production.
Driverless technology is set to transform transportation, logistics and transit infrastructure globally with up to 15 per cent of cars sold by 2030 being fully autonomous, according to US consulting firm McKinsey. The revenue streams and new businesses created by shared mobility, web-connectivity services and feature upgrades could increase automotive revenue pools by 30 per cent, adding up to $1.5 trillion to the automotive industry in the next decade, according to McKinsey.
The Dubai Government, for its part, is aiming for a quarter of transportation to be autonomous in the emirate by 2030. The UAE ranked ninth in KPMG's 2019 Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index, ahead of Japan, Canada, France and China.
Noon estimates that reliable driverless vehicle technology can remove up to 90 per cent of the cost associated with last-mile delivery.
“Noon is very proud to bring driverless delivery vans to streets in our cities, " said Mohamed Alabbar, founder of Noon.com and chairman of Emaar Properties, Dubai's biggest listed developer. "We are a hungry, talented and ambitious nation. I hope it will inspire our tech-driven youth to dream big and to achieve those dreams because everything is possible here.”
The e-commerce company was started in 2017 as a joint venture between is a joint venture between Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and Mr Alabbar with an initial investment of $1 billion. Noon now has operations in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Separately on Tuesday, Symphony Investment - which counts Emaar Properties, Aramex and Americana Group as investors - signed a strategic partnership with Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing.
The parties will set up a joint venture headquartered in Abu Dhabi, with an aim to promote a sharing economy and internet consumer services in the region. Mubadala Investment Company of Abu Dhabi is evaluating joining the consortium to help expand Didi in the region.