Technology

Dubai RTA launches tests of world's first autonomous pods

Posted on February 13, 2018

NEXT Future Transportation's autonomous pods for the Roads and Transport Authority of Dubai. Photo: RTA
NEXT Future Transportation's autonomous pods for the Roads and Transport Authority of Dubai. Photo: RTA

Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), in cooperation with Next Future Transportation, launched testing of the world's first autonomous pods during the World Government Summit in Dubai.

The autonomous pods are designed to travel short and medium distances in dedicated lanes. They can be coupled in 15 to 20 seconds or detached, depending on the destination of riders, in five seconds. The autonomous pods are fitted with cameras and electromechanical technologies to carry out the coupling and detaching processes, and this feature can be activated in-motion.

Each pod measures 9.4 feet in length, 7.3 feet in width and 9.25 feet in height. It weighs about 3,300 lbs. and has a capacity to accommodate ten riders (six seated, four standing). The autonomous pod is fitted with a battery that supports three hours of operation; which is chargeable in six hours. Its average speed is 12 mph.

"It echoes the Dubai Autonomous Transport Strategy aimed at converting 25% of mobility journeys in Dubai to autonomous transportation by 2030," HE Mattar Al Tayer, RTA director-general/chairman, said of the testing.

“The RTA has signed an agreement with the American Next Future Inc. to develop autonomous units named (NX1) as part of the initial phase of Dubai Future Accelerators. The prototypes of these units are manufactured in Italy and shipped to Dubai to put them on trials. These pods run on a virtual pre-configured and programmed lane and are overseen by the operational system.



According to Al Tayer, the autonomous pods have three protection systems in order to ensure full control and avoid collisions. The main system comprises 3D cameras, and the second one is a standby system based on ordinary cameras, and the last is operated manually by the operator.

Based in Italy, Next Future Transportation designs, manufactures, and sells advanced electric cars and robotic systems, including software, hardware, and logistic solutions.

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