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Abu Dhabi's Department of Municipalities and Transport

The Integrated Transport Centre (ITC) under the Abu Dhabi Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT) has reported significant strides in its smart transportation initiative on Yas Island and Saadiyat Island. Notably, this project features an impressive fleet of eight TXAI autonomous vehicles, heralded as the pioneering fully automated self-driving taxis in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The journey of this innovative venture began in November 2021, with the launch of five TXAI self-driving taxis, and subsequently expanded in November 2022 with the incorporation of an additional three vehicles. These cutting-edge Robotaxis have rapidly gained traction, amassing over 5,000 registered users and successfully completing a remarkable 17,000 passenger journeys. To complement this endeavor, the ITC introduced four mini Robobuses in November 2022, providing a holistic and sustainable transport solution to residents and visitors on the islands.

H.E. Mohamed Ali Al Shorafa, the esteemed chairman of the Department of Municipalities and Transport, emphasized the strategic importance of the smart transport project. He underscored its alignment with Abu Dhabi’s overarching vision of cultivating smart cities, underscored by sustainable growth and driven by knowledge and innovation. Al Shorafa hailed the collaboration between governmental and private sectors, as the DMT and ITC jointly strive to actualize a seamlessly integrated, intelligent, and eco-friendly transportation system. He echoed the sentiment that this initiative is a pivotal stride toward materializing the ambitious vision set forth by the visionary leadership of the emirate.

Al Shorafa expressed, “This initiative paves the way for an innovative phase in fostering an ecologically conscious and viable transportation industry within the emirate. This move not only spurs heightened economic investments and tourism prospects but also underscores the pivotal role of the transportation sector as a prime catalyst for overall growth, bolstering enterprises and contributing a distinctive competitive edge to a multitude of economic sectors.

Adding to the global landscape of autonomous driving developments, Chinese autonomous vehicle manufacturer WeRide recently secured the distinction of being granted the first national-level autonomous driving license in the UAE. This milestone achievement empowers WeRide to engage in road tests and autonomous driving operations within the nation.

The ITC, in its unwavering commitment to progress and innovation, has outlined a comprehensive testing strategy for autonomous vehicles in the upcoming months. Rigorous assessments of vehicle performance under demanding conditions, such as high passenger loadings during the scorching summer months, are poised to provide invaluable insights. Simultaneously, the ITC is diligently evaluating the prospect of expanding autonomous vehicle operations, while also dedicating efforts to shape the requisite legislative and regulatory framework to ensure the safe execution of autonomous driving operations.

A representative from WeRide, the aforementioned Chinese autonomous vehicle entity, affirmed their keen interest in the Middle East as a prime market for their autonomous driving products and services. The establishment of their Middle East office in the China-UAE Industrial Capacity Cooperation Demonstration Zone in March attests to their strong commitment. This groundbreaking license is poised to accelerate and amplify WeRide’s local initiatives, fostering swift and substantial development in the region.

As Abu Dhabi forges ahead with its visionary agenda for intelligent and sustainable transportation, the progress achieved with the Robotaxis and Robobuses on Yas Island and Saadiyat Island underscores the emirate’s dedication to realizing a future imbued with technological advancement and environmental stewardship. The journey continues, with the ITC primed to surmount challenges, shape legislation, and collaborate with innovative partners to steer Abu Dhabi toward a future where smart mobility reigns supreme.

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