Feb 11 2019
Our leaders made an early start to shape the future, and mobilised resources to cope with the Fourth Industrial Revolution
(Al Tayer speaking at the World Gov Summit: )
HE Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), stated that the UAE had committed all its resources to cope with the technological & industrial breakthrough. “The country had launched the UAE’s Fourth Industrial Revolution Strategy; which is based on benefiting from nanotechnology, artificial intelligence (AI), smart devices and digital transactions in all fields. In the mobility field, it seeks to provide autonomous air, land, and marine transit modes fully managed by AI systems. Dubai has recently established the Emirates Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution to improve on the business plans & applications, and enhance the governance of relevant technologies,” he said.
Al Tayer made this statement at a session during the World Government Summit 2019 entitled: The Future of Mobility in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
“We, in the UAE, are privileged by the futuristic vision of our leaders HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE; HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; and HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. Our leaders have made an early start in anticipating & shaping the future. It is no wonder that UAE has been the home of the world’s longest driverless metro line since 2009; with ridership clocking one billion by the end of 2017,” said Al Tayer.
Shaping the Future
As part of its efforts to envision and shape the future, RTA has developed systems for monitoring and analysing the local & global future trends to study various scenarios.
“In 2016, Dubai’s Government launched a fully-fledged autonomous mobility strategy in the field of autonomous mobility aimed at transforming 25% of the total transportation in Dubai to autonomous modes by 2030. The current share of autonomous modes is 9%.
In the field of AI, the Fourth Industrial Revolution seeks to develop AI systems capable of taking autonomous smart decisions based on Big Data and high computing skills. For instance, RTA’s Enterprise Command & Control Centre (EC3) deals with 75 million information per day, and the Decision Support Centre handles about 615 million information per day. RTA has launched a package of AI projects highlighted by the Traffic Control System; which will be operational in the mid of 2020 (before the launch of Expo 2020). The centre uses AI to achieve three objectives: the first is to support mega-events (such as Expo 2020). The second is to forecast & manage the traffic movement, prepare quick response plans and take real-time decisions. The third is monitoring accidents, detecting emergencies and reducing the time of handling them.
As for shared transport, RTA has charted out the ‘Shared Mobility Plan 2030 covering the introduction and deployment of transit means for the ‘First and Last mile’ and boosting the integration with public transit means.
By the end of 2017, RTA launched the S’Hail System; offering a platform encompassing all transport systems in the Emirate. The system has so far been used in about 850 thousand journeys. In 2017, RTA rolled out a car-sharing initiative involving the deployment of about 400 vehicles for the time being, and the number is set to rise to 1400 shared cars by 2030.
RTA has also introduced the mini ‘Bus on Demand service’ covering two districts in Dubai. The plan envisages increasing the number of districts to 12 by 2030. RTA is currently working on procedures for the introduction of a Peer-to-Peer model, enabling the sharing of private vehicles.
“RTA’s initiatives in the field of sustainable transport systems have contributed to reducing fuel consumption by 285 million liters per annum, and cutting carbon pollutants by 50 thousand tons per annum,” he elaborated.
Al Tayer recapped the future roles of government sectors in keeping pace with the accelerating developments in five key areas: Anticipating the future, governance & legislation, improving the relationship with the private sector, upgrading the business systems to cope with future needs, and encouraging research, trials and development.
At an early stage, the UAE had launched its Future Foresight Strategy. At the local level, the Dubai Government has launched several initiatives such as the Dubai Future Councils comprising 13 councils aimed at drawing up the future and turning successful ideas into a reality, including the Dubai Future Council for Transportation.
“RTA has launched several initiatives as part of the Dubai 10X such as the City Gate Airports to ease the check-in formalities for riders from various districts of Dubai and the Smarter Vehicles … Quicker Response using AI to reduce the response time for emergencies. It has also kicked off the Sustainable and Innovative Roads initiative for developing a portfolio of integrated power production projects in addition to other projects undertaken with start-ups covering future accelerators, such as the Connected Smart Mobility Units.
“The big changes in the roles of government & private sectors warrant enacting legislation that serve two basic objectives, i.e. protecting safety, security and privacy; and streamlining the relationship with the private sector with reference to the testing and operation of technology and introducing new models.
“Hence, RTA announced the launch of the Autonomous Aerial Vehicle and is currently cooperating with the General Civil Aviation Authority and the Dubai Aviation Authority to enact the legislation needed for the operation of this vehicle in Dubai.
“RTA has also streamlined its relationship with e-Hail companies (Uber and Careem) since 2016. The relationship has culminated in a strategic partnership with Careem for running taxi services using the same e-Hail services. The new company will be launched in April 2019.
“As for boosting the relationship with the private sector, RTA has enhanced its involvement with Khalifa University and Dubai University for developing robotic and autonomous driving systems. It has also forged an agreement with Du for the provision of free internet service in ten thousand taxis. Currently, RTA is cooperating with global firms to activate the use of the nol card as a means of payment for public facilities and stores, rendering it part of our lifestyles,” explained Al Tayer.
“There is a need to upgrade the government systems to align them with future developments, such as the revision of the principles of town planning and the transport infrastructure to make them responsive to future needs. There is also a need to improve the techniques of identifying customer needs and expectations and measuring their satisfaction level. For instance, RTA uses AI technologies to measure the happiness level of 35 thousand clients. It also uses the data of the EC3 to manage the movement of taxis and limousines.
“It is imperative to encourage research, trials and development to keep pace with the fast changes in place. Accordingly, RTA launched the Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport in 2018. It is the first contest of its kind worldwide in support of research & development. In October 2019, RTA will hold the Dubai World Congress for Self-Driving Transport; the first of its kind held by a government entity. RTA is also mulling the launch of the Smart Mobility Lab; the world’s first lab including a site dedicated to making trials of aerial and land autonomous transport,” explained Al Tayer.
Closing his speech, Al Tayer was optimistic about the future of the transport sector across the world. “We are under no illusion that the future developments and challenges of transport will be immense. Yet, we are getting prepared to cope with them,” he concluded.