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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 27 May 2018

World Government Summit: $5m prize for best autonomous vehicle concept

Innovators tasked with helping Dubai replace 25 per cent of its transport with driverless cars

The latest version of Google's self driving car is outside the Google X labs in Mountain View, California. Getty Images
The latest version of Google's self driving car is outside the Google X labs in Mountain View, California. Getty Images

Designers have the chance to win $5 million (Dh18.4m) for coming up with the best autonomous transport mode in time for a summit on driverless vehicles in Dubai next year.

The Roads and Transport Authority and Khalifa University want ideas on how Dubai can achieve its goal of a quarter of all journeys by autonomous transport by 2030.

A panel of expert judges selected from the industry will scrutinise the entries in October 2019, and award cash prizes to the winners of the Global Autonomous Initiative.

John Rossant is chairman of the non-profit New Cities Foundation, which assesses the impact of technology and its disruption on cities.

“Five or so years ago, we began to focus on the mobility revolution, as we think there is not one solution alone that will transform all of our cities around the world,” he said.

“Dubai has taken a position at the cutting edge of mobility. It is emerging as one of the leaders in this industry.

“North America and the UAE will emerge as the global hubs of mobility and self-driving transport.

“This challenge is very important and will reward some of the companies and institutions already working in this area.

“The best solution will be all about scalability.”

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Competition details are to be posted on the RTA website.

Also on Tuesday, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid attended initial tests of the world’s first autonomous transport pods. The project has been developed by the Roads and Transport Authority, in co-operation with Next Future Transportation.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, attend initial tests for the world’s first autonomous pods. Courtesy Dubai Media Office
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, attend initial tests for the world’s first autonomous pods. Courtesy Dubai Media Office

The initial tests took place on the sidelines of the summit and was attended by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai.

The autonomous pods are designed to travel short and medium distances in dedicated lanes. They can be coupled together in as little as 15 seconds or detached – depending on the riders’ destination – in five seconds.

Each pod is fitted with cameras and electromechanical technologies to carry out the coupling and detaching processes, which can be activated while in motion.