Dubai’s RTA launches $5m challenge for self-driving cars

International experts on smart mobility will judge the entrants



Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has announced the launch of a challenge for self-driving vehicles with prizes of more than $5m.

The initiative is being launched as part of the Dubai World Congress for Self-Driving Transport, a new event that will take place in partnership with Khalifa City and NewCities Foundation in October 2019.

The event aims to raise awareness of modern and future technologies for self-driving transport and forms part of Dubai government efforts to make 25 per cent of journeys in the emirate autonomous by 2030.

RTA director general and chairman Mattar Al Tayer said the challenge aimed to encourage companies to address issues including traffic congestion, low public transport usage and first and last-mile connectivity.

He described the competition as the largest in the world for companies, universities and R&D centres.

A prize worth $3m will be awarded to the winner of the the leading companies category along with a licence for a pilot operation in Dubai. The winner of the start-ups category will receive $1.5m and entrance to one of the cycles of the Dubai Future Accelerators programme. A further $600,000 has been allocated to UAE and international universities(split 50/50).

International experts on smart mobility will judge the entrants and select the winners based on technical criteria.

They will be pre-qualified based on status, credibility, future vision, skills and relevant expertise of the entity and then tested for technical ability and experience, the business case and relevance to Dubai and the UAE and operation and service.

Each participant in the companies, start-ups and universities categories will be tested for:

• Durability and reliability
• Ability of driving under traffic conditions simulating the reality
• Power efficiency and environmental relevance
• Safety and e-security
• User’s experience

Registration will open this month with a submission deadline of June. The finalists will be announced in October and the final winners will be awarded at the event in October 2019.

Earlier this week, the RTA announced a pilot project with US technology firm Next Future Transportation to test autonomous transport pods in the emirate.

Read: Dubai to test driverless transport pods

It also signed a memorandum with car navigation firm Here Technologies to map the emirate’s streets for self-driving cars.

Read: Dubai’s RTA signs MoU with Here to enable self-driving cars