October 2, 2023
The winners of the Dubai World Self-Driving Challenge have been announced for 2023.
The competition aims to highlight and reward innovation in the area of autonomous transport and this year the focus was on driverless buses, with entrants vying for recognition in two sectors: Industry Leaders and Local Academia.
The prize winners were revealed at the World Congress for Self-Driving Transport in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.
Taking the top award in the former category was Chinese company King Long, whose electric self-driving shuttle is currently operating in more than 30 cities in China, as well as in Abu Dhabi.
The vehicle is fitted with self-driving tech from Baidu Apollo and features a total of 27 cameras and sensors. It can accommodate 12 passengers and reach a top speed of 43 mph and claimed the top award after being assessed for safety, sustainability, passenger experience, interaction with road users and operational strategy.
King Long was awarded $1 million for its efforts, having impressed over the course of the extensive testing program, which got underway in July. During this process, the bus demonstrated an array of different abilities, including emergency lane maneuvers, negotiating its way past broken-down vehicles and navigating roundabouts.
Second place went to BrightDrive from Egypt, whose self-driving bus is equipped with 16 cameras and sensors and can also reach a top speed of just over 40 mph. The Alexandria-based company won $750,000.
Emphasizing the global nature of the competition, the other finalists were Alexander Dennis from Scotland, iAuto Technology from Taiwan and QuadriBot of France.
The Academia award went to a team of students from Heriot-Watt University of Dubai, who devised a virtual reality simulation aimed at improving the experience of passengers on autonomous public transit solutions. The university collected a prize of $100,000.
The challenge is an annual competition, with previous versions focusing on first and last-mile transportation and unmanned logistics.
The Congress also saw influencers and stakeholders from across the mobility spectrum debate and discuss a number of issues as Dubai pushes ahead with its ambitious plan to completely reshape transportation, with plans for 25% of all journeys to be completed autonomously by 2030.
Among the highlights was confirmation from Ahmed Bahrozyan, the CEO of Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) that self-driving taxis from General Motors subsidiary Cruise – which has been mapping the city as well as collecting data – will begin testing in the upmarket Jumeirah area next month.
Meanwhile, Duncan Walker, CEO of vertiports company Skyports, told the Congress that he expected flying taxis to be the norm in the Emirate in just three years.
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