Dubai Launches Self-Driving Bus Challenge
Thinking of developing a self-driving bus? The Dubai government wants to hear from you.
The Emirate’s Road and Transport Authority has just launched the third Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport, an annual competition where companies and academics are invited to submit plans for a form of driverless vehicle.
Previous challenges have focused on first and last-mile transportation and unmanned logistics, but this year buses will take center stage.
The challenge is one of several initiatives Dubai is pursuing as it aims to become a world leader in autonomous transport, with the ultimate goal of 25% of all journeys to be driverless by 2030. It has the backing of Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and prize money totaling $2.3 million is available.
Entries will be split into two categories, Industry Leaders and Local Academia, each with slightly different criteria.
Industry Leaders are considered to be any global company, organization or consortium working on self-driving tech for buses. They are being asked to deliver a “mini-/midi-/standard bus of at least 5.6 meters with a minimum capacity of 12 seats” and will be evaluated in four areas – Safety & Security, Passenger Transport Performance, Operational Design Domain and Operational Capabilities, with the bus functionality key to the success of the entry.
Local Academia is for entries designated as a university or research institute based in the United Arab Emirates with an R&D department investigating self-driving solutions. They are tasked with developing a full or small-scale working prototype with a particular focus on enhancing the passenger experience.
They will be evaluated on the latter, as well as on the integrability with self-driving buses and maturity of solution.
Interested parties can register and apply online for the Challenge now, with the finalists announced in October. The winner will be crowned at the Dubai World Congress for Self-Driving Transport in October 2023.
This year has seen Dubai take some significant steps forward in its attempt to make driverless travel a widely adopted option by 2030.
In February, it announced trials of digital mapping will start later this year which will facilitate the deployment of a limited number of autonomous Origin vehicles from General Motors subsidiary Cruise next year. This would make Dubai the first city in the world outside the U.S. to operate Cruise self-driving taxis.
Ultimately, the target is to have a fleet of 4,000 Cruise robotaxis available in eight years.
Local police are getting in on the act, too. They unveiled driverless patrol cars to wide acclaim at the World Police Summit earlier this year. These use machine learning to detect suspected criminal activity.