Welcome to the future, welcome to Abu Dhabi…

Some of the world’s finest drivers will be descending on Yas Marina Circuit between November 17 and 20, for the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2022.

But off track – it’s the absence of drivers, that’s been snatching the headline space today.

According to an Article in the Khaleej Times, a driverless form of minibus will begin operations in Abu Dhabi in November as part of the public transport network supporting the F1. The article states that the announcement was dispatched from the Government of Abu Dhabi stand at the Gitex Global event, currently underway in Dubai.

Max VerSTOPpen

The buses comes fitted with a range of Q-Branch-car-sounding future tech including LiDER, will be able to seat seven people and are set to make stops at nine strategic locations on Yas Island including “W hotel, Yas Water World, Yas Marina Circuit and Ferrari World”. And best of all — the service is free.

The driving force behind the project is Txai (not a typo) who you may remember from some earlier autonomous chauffeuring last year.


LewAIs Hamilton

The buses are part of a much larger effort to improve the efficiency and environmental impact of how we get about town — the Integrated Transport Centre’s Smart Mobility Project — which operates on a mandate to revolutionise transportation, first on Yas and Saadiyat, then the world (/the rest of Abu Dhabi).

One of the frames in the video above shows a board detailing some of the key numbers associated with the Smart Mobility Project. Phase one included the trial of five autonomous electric and hybrid taxis operating a route of nine stops on Yas Island. The case study began and concluded in 2021 and was comprised of 2,130 rides played out across 76,787km of total driving distance.

Txai had already teased a return of its ‘look no hands’ cars for 2022 across its social media channels, with a further announcement that one of the backing partners (along with the ITC and G42), Bayanat had now mapped “the entire UAE” — all as part of the ongoing driverless vehicle project.


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Buses, Trams, and driverless automobiles

The second part of the project will include three “automatic rapid transit” vehicles (on-rail trams), a fleet of eight ‘RoboTaxis’ — the driverless ones mentioned above, four “Robo-Minibuses” and 15 charging stations.

To infinity, and beyond..?

Also spotted at Gitex this year — flying cars. Yep. Actual flying cars. Although if we’re being picky, the absence of wheels makes the traditional defining functionality of a car somewhat unlikely, either way it’s fair to say, we’re living in the future.


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Images: ITC via Twitter