“How long have you been in Abu Dhabi ma…”

Once the preserve of science fiction scripts, autonomous taxis are now an actual thing. Meet ‘Txai’, the UAE’s first fully autonomous taxi.

These particular small-talk-free rides were unveiled at Abu Dhabi’s Smart City Summit by UAE-based company — Bayanat, and will excitingly be hitting the streets of Yas Island this month as part of a testing phase.

This Knightrider (showing our age here) future tech is made possible by geospatial data analytics, sophisticated learning algorithms and AI driving software, pioneered by Bayanat.

All hail autonomous taxis

The initial trial phase will see five Txais ferrying passengers between nine hotels, restaurants, shopping malls and offices on Yas Island, this November.

The second phase will see the coverage area spread further across Abu Dhabi.

And to help ease people into the idea of driverless taxis, there will be a ‘safety officer’ present in the vehicles during the trial phase.

So it seems, driverless taxis are a part of the immediate Abu Dhabi future. There’s a chance we’ll miss being asked ‘where we’re from boss?’ but unlikely to pen a requiem for arguing over changing a Dhs100 note.

First gear

It’s a big deal. This is the first L4-level autonomous driving trial across the entire MENA region.

Speaking about the saftey aspects of the project His Excellency Falah Al Ahbabi, Chairman of the Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT), said: “DMT is continuously working with its partners in Bayanat and Miral to test the safety of the vehicles, in addition to overseeing the operations to ensure that a state-of-the-art service is provided in a safe and distinctive manner, and to ensure compliance with the UAE traffic laws and regulations.”

Images: Provided