Abu Dhabi clean energy project Masdar City has unveiled its first autonomous vehicle, which will begin shuttling people on a daily basis.
Capable of transporting up to 12 people, the shuttle – designed by French autonomous vehicle company NAVYA, is a self-driven electric vehicle with a top operational speed of 25 kilometres per hour.
The shuttle will operate a regular all-day service linking Masdar City’s parking areas with its main podium.
The NAVYA shuttle was customised to mitigate the effects of the region’s extreme heat and humidity on battery performance, a statement said.
It has also undergone rigorous health and safety testing to safeguard passengers and pedestrians, according to Masdar.
The vehicle uses onboard cameras and sensitive LIDAR sensors creating 3D and 2D perception maps to detect obstacles and their position relative to the vehicle.
While GPS technology allows the vehicle to define its precise location, it also uses technology to communicate with traffic lights.
The service will be the first operational use of technology in the Middle East and North Africa, the statement added.
Looking ahead, a fleet of seven Autonom Shuttles are expected to arrive next year as part of implementation of Masdar City’s wider transportation strategy.
That will also see the shuttle route map expanded to connect the Etihad Eco Residence complex above the city’s North Car Park with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) headquarters and Majid Al Futtaim’s My City Centre Masdar shopping mall, which is due for completion in the first half of 2019.
“Masdar City’s Personal Rapid Transit, PRT, system, which has carried more than two million passengers in eight years of operations, has established a benchmark for driverless and sustainable mobility in the UAE,” Yousef Baselaib, executive director for Sustainable Real Estate at Masdar.