UAE’s Al Habtoor partners with Israel's Mobileye to operate robotaxis and autonomous vehicles

The companies plan to install systems in 1,000 cars to begin gathering data on driving habits next year

Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor (second from left), founding chairman of Al Habtoor Group, shaking hand with Amnon Shashua, chief executive of Mobileye, after signing the pact. Courtesy Al Habtoor Group
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Dubai-based business conglomerate Al Habtoor Group is joining forces with Israeli car technology company Mobileye with a view to operating a fleet of autonomous vehicles and robotaxis in Dubai by 2023.

Plans will move ahead from the beginning of next year, when Mobileye 8 Connect systems will be installed in 1,000 cars on a pilot basis to collect data and map Dubai's roads, the companies said. This will allow its collision avoidance system to collect valuable insights on driving habits, autonomous vehicle mapping and city planning.

“Today we are 50 years old and this is a plan for the next 50 years to come ... this technology will benefit the UAE, Israel, neighbouring countries and the whole world,” Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, founding chairman of Al Habtoor Group, said.

“We are specialised in various businesses such as cars, hospitality, real estate and insurance … and this is a new thing to learn … [that] has a potential to serve future generations,” he added.

The roll out of the technology will be carried out in phases and depending on the response, Al Habtoor Group will expand the service into other emirates and neighbouring countries. The partners did not disclose the levels of investment in this project.

In the second half of 2021, Mobileye-powered autonomous vehicles will be deployed in Dubai to start road testing. They will use high-definition maps and data collected in the pilot project.

In 2022, they plan to start an early-rider programme to test their Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) offering in Dubai.

A Tesla Model S car with driverless technology. Bloomberg 
A Tesla Model S car with driverless technology. Bloomberg 

Building on insights gained during the first three phases of the collaboration, the parties will jointly launch and commercialise a Mobileye-powered driverless mobility service for UAE consumers in early 2023, said Amnon Shashua, chief executive of Mobileye, which is a subsidiary of US-based chipmaker Intel.

“By the end of 2022 or the beginning of 2023, we will start launching a fleet of MaaS through robotaxis, self-driving vehicles and we will keep expanding. Dubai is the epicentre of the Middle East … once we succeed here, we will be able to expand across the region,” he added.

Mobileye will support Al Habtoor Group with backoffice, engineering, tele-operation and mobility intelligence support, as well as final validation to prepare the fleet for commercial launch, Mr Shashua said.

The normalisation of relations between the UAE and Israel this month is opening up investment opportunities between the two countries in various fields for the first time, Mr Al Habtoor said.

“The agreement has made it easier to sit, communicate and finalise [deals] … it is the foundation of success between the business of two countries,” he added.

Talking about other investment opportunities in Israel, he said, “We are studying all the opportunities … if there is any opportunity in Israel, definitely we will go for it.”