Ajman's self-driving shuttle bus hits the road

Bus will ferry passengers to and from hotels within 3km of the Corniche

Ajman's first self-driving bus goes on its maiden official journey.
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A self-driving shuttle bus had its maiden voyage along Ajman Corniche on Tuesday.

Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, director of Ajman Municipality and Planning Department, accompanied by Omar Al Olama, Minister of State for Digital Economy, AI and Remote Working System, were among the passengers for the first journey of three kilometres.

The bus has space for 15 passengers – 11 seated and four standing – and has been equipped with sensors and navigation controls that are managed by an on-board AI system.

It has eight external cameras and another six inside, all connected to Wi-Fi, which are part of the navigation system.

The bus will be used to ferry passengers to and from hotels located within 3km of the Corniche, and the plan is to more than double that distance to 7km in the future.

“The infrastructure on about three kilometres of Ajman Corniche road have been equipped with sensors that respond to the bus’ cameras,” said Nasir Al Shamsi, project manager with Ion, a sustainable transport company in the UAE that developed the technology on the bus.

“The plan is extend that to seven kilometres soon.”

Produced by a French company, the vehicle was tested in Masdar City and further developed by Ion, a joint venture between Bee’ah and Crescent Enterprises.

“We began the trials in 2018 inside the closed city of Masdar before we decided to put the bus into operation on Ajman Corniche, after the road was fitted with sensors,” Mr Al Shamsi said.

The bus is able to detect pedestrians, traffic signals and road barriers from nearly 20 metres away and comes to a complete stop until the object moves or the signals turn green.

“Once roads' infrastructure is ready, we can add this technology to any vehicle of any size that can take regular routes or be used in public transport,” he said.

Last August, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, announced that 5 per cent of Dubai’s Taxi Corporation fleet will become driverless by 2023.

Earlier this year, Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority signed an agreement with General Motors-backed Cruise to operate driverless taxis and offer shared transport services in Dubai.

In Abu Dhabi, trials began this year with three driverless taxis, following a partnership between the Department of Municipalities and Transport and Bayanat, part of the G42 group.

Updated: November 18, 2021, 5:24 AM