Dubai trials first-ever driverless abra
The move contributes to Dubai’s master plan to curb carbon emissions from public transport…
If you love hopping onboard the Dubai Abra, you may notice a boat out on the Creek without a captain but don’t panic as what you’re probably seeing is an electric abra.
Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has announced that it has begun trial operations of the ‘First Autonomous Electric Abra’. The abra has been designed in such a way that it doesn’t lose out on the abra’s charm or heritage.
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But, why is it going electric? Well, according to HE Mattar Al Tayer, Director General, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of RTA, “The operation of the Autonomous Electric Abra is in line with RTA’s efforts to achieve Dubai’s Strategy for Self-Driving Transport that aims to convert 25 per cent of the total mobility journeys in Dubai into self-driving journeys by 2030.”
Al Tayer added that the move contributes to Dubai’s master plan to curb carbon emissions from public transport.
Here’s what we know…
The traditional abra is designed to run using diesel, and if you have ridden one before, you know it can be extremely noisy. The all-new electric abra will eliminate noise and will have zero carbon emissions. Operating and maintenance costs will also be lowered by 30 per cent.
The abra will be equipped with two electric motors with a maximum speed of seven knots. Lithium batteries will ensure an operating time of seven hours.
The electric abra is designed to carry a total of eight riders and will use fibreglass in the hull to reduce the weight.
During the trial phase which took place from Al Jaddaf Station to the Festival City Station on Dubai Creek, the electric abra was able to operate and run fully autonomous ‘autonomous procedures independent of the captain, who acts only as operation supervisor to intervene only if needed.’
The electric abra was able to adhere to the predetermined course given the effects of waves and wind. It could also detect obstacles in the navigational path and intervene to avoid a crash during the journey, and notify the control centre of deviations from the operating plan.
At the moment, there has been no announcement regarding a launch date or the cost per trip when using an electric abra, but the transport authority will make the announcement in time.
The master plan
RTA has developed a master plan to develop marine transportation. Last year alone, marine transport ferried around 16 million riders.
Future plans include the development of four traditional abra stations in Dubai Creek namely Bur Dubai, Deira Old Souk, Dubai Old Souk, and Al Sabkha Stations. RTA envisions increasing the capacity of the abra stations by 33 per cent which will feature advanced technologies and facilities for customers.
In 2021, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai announced the signing of an agreement between Road and Transport Authority (RTA) and Cruise, a leading US-based autonomous vehicle company that will operate self-driving taxis and ride-hailing services in the emirate. The agreement supports Dubai’s 2030 vision for self-driving technology. Driverless taxis are also expected to be launched in Dubai by the end of 2023.
Images: Dubai Media Office