Successful robotaxi trial puts Abu Dhabi ahead of Dubai
In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), mobility innovation advances through intense competition between rival emirates. In autonomous taxi services (a.k.a. ‘robotaxis’), Abu Dhabi (pictured) is ahead of Dubai. Abu Dhabi-based AI company Bayanat has successfully completed the first phase of its autonomous taxi service called TXAI – the first ever pilot of Level-4 autonomy in the Middle East.
First announced at the Abu Dhabi Smart City Summit in November 2021, TXAI’s public trials took place on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi from late November to late December last year. In total, more than 2,700 passengers booked the service through the TXAI app, which could be downloaded from both the Apple and Google Play stores. Overall, the pilot racked up more than 16,600 km of autonomous driving.
Abu Dhabi: WeRide
The pilot took place in full compliance with regulations and in close collaboration with the Abu Dhabi authorities. Software and hardware solutions, as well as operating and monitoring systems, were provided by WeRide, a global leader in Level-4 autonomous driving technologies.
Banayat is currently working to launch the project’s second phase, scheduled for the middle of this year. It will include 10 TXAIs, operating at various locations throughout Abu Dhabi.
“The launch of TXAI is the first of its type in the Middle East/North Africa region, and underpins the strength of our partnership with WeRide”, sais Hasan Al Hosani, CEO of Banayat. “We’re committed to working with UAE authorities to build innovative transport systems by making strategic investments across the smart mobility value chain.”
Banayat’s ambitions transcend the Abu Dhabi and the wider UAE. It aims to be the de-facto partner for geospatial data throughout the MENA region and in parts of Southeast Asia.
Meanwhile, Dubai – the other leading emirate in the UAE – has announced its own trials for driverless taxis, for 2023. The plan is to increase the number of autonomous vehicles to 4,000 by 2030.
The Dubai pilot will be organised by the Emirate’s Roads and Transport Authority, in collaboration with Cruise, the GM subsidiary. Using a number or autonomous Cruise vehicles, the pilot will offer autonomous taxi and e-hailing services.
An official statement says Dubai will be “one of the first cities outside of the U.S.” to operate such vehicles. “Dubai will be the first global platform for launching Cruise Origin Cars,” says Mattar Mohammed Al Thayer, Director-General of RTA.
Dubai intends to make 56% of its taxi fleet environmentally friendly by next year, and convert 5% of the taxis to autonomous vehicles, also in 2023. The larger aim is to transform 25% of Dubai’s total mobility to self-driving transport modes by 2030.