Future cool: The top 5 sci-fi Dubai transport trends

The future is bright, the future is autonomous…

These are the pods you are looking for…

As videos of the first driverless car exploring the streets of Dubai emerged today and with the Dubai World Congress for Self-Driving Transport taking place right now, we thought it would be good to have a quick refresher on the future of transport in our forward-thinking metropolis.

Here are five trends that self-driving congress reckons are going to shape how we get from A to B in the near and not so near future…


1. Driverless cars

Well, no surprise there then, but still even though this seems like a given, with the hectic and unpredictable nature of Dubai’s roads we’re not so sure that we are going to be able to do some of guilt-free grammin’ behind the wheel any time soon.

What the experts say:

While automation, to some degree, already exists in vehicles today, fully autonomous vehicles are several years away. According to some experts, driverless cars are expected to arrive on public roads by 2021.

This mass rollout of driverless cars will reinforce a cleaner and more efficient way of travel in Dubai. However, private self-driving vehicles are just the start of autonomous modes of transport in Dubai.


2. Autonomous public transport

But wait, we have the metro already, that’s already autonomous – you know, you can head to where the driver should be and snap a selfie with the line running off behind you into the distance.

Amazing though the metro is, to quote Tom Hardy in ‘Inception’…

What the experts say:

At the beginning of the year, Dubai’s transport authority began testing autonomous pods that travel short distances on dedicated lanes. Currently, these autonomous pods can only run along pre-programmed routes.

In the future, Dubai hopes to enable these pods to become accessible to residents beyond dedicated lanes and pre-programmed routes.

What about flying taxis and Hyperloop?

A futuristic mode of transport using vacuum-sealed tubes, the Hyperloop will significantly cut down travel time between emirates. With this technology, residents can travel between Abu Dhabi and Dubai in just 12 minutes.

This inter-emirate travel is expected to commence at the production level by 2021.

AAT is another exciting project set to transform Dubai’s urban mobility landscape. Recently taking to the skies, AAT is the world’s first self-flying taxi service. While it is still in the testing and development phase, Dubai aims to have this autonomous drone taxi service up and running within five years.

3. AI and machine learning

Well, we all know, it takes some serious mental energy to navigate Sheikh Zayed Road on a Thursday night at 6pm. So, the brains in all of these autonomous shuttles, whips and rides had better be up to the task of keeping us safe. Apparently, not only will they adapt quickly to driving situation thanks to AI and machine learning, they are going to mean traffic jams are thing of the past!

Wait… no more gridlock!

What the experts say:

Machine learning algorithms will also enable on-demand route optimisation. This will have a significant impact not only on how people commute from place to place but also on how logistic companies and emergency medical services are deployed.

Through the use of AI, autonomous vehicle sensors, and vehicle-to-vehicle communication networks, other driverless cars will have better situation awareness. This will enable neighbouring cars to effectively anticipate emergency vehicles and yield the right-of-way.

4. In-car entertainment

Simply put, Netflix on tour.

But that’s not all. When we have to stop looking at the road and can start looking inwards on our commute or road trips, it is predicted that a whole new economy will emerge – the passenger economy which will focus around the in-car infotainment systems.

Future bliss!

What the experts say:

In self-driving cars, these in-vehicle infotainment systems will be capable of a vast array of functionalities. Examples of future on-the-go in-vehicle experiences include:

  • Mobile beauty salons
  • On-the-go dining
  • Mini medical clinics
  • Mobile motels
  • Local delivery pods
  • Drive-away media and entertainment

Hmmm, not sure we are quite ready to have our jabs on the go but do love the idea of having our nails touched up before we get to the office.

5. Digital infrastructure

Here is where it all gets a bit technical but to keep it brief, in order to take advantage of all of the benefits automation will bring to Dubai, its people and its economy, it is important the infrastructure is in place. But don’t worry Dubai is putting its money where it is mouth is on that one with a new AED 590 million smart traffic system announced by Dubai RTA.


What the experts say:

Better traffic monitoring will enable the city to reduce congestion build-up and cut the time for detecting accidents.

Through smart apps and Variable Messaging Signs, drivers will be provided real-time traffic information which will allow drivers to make informed driving decisions.

Dubai RTA is expected to continue evolving this smart traffic system. A futuristic traffic management system that will work in conjunction with autonomous vehicles will include traffic monitoring and data capturing systems.


Is it us or is driving as it is today beginning to seem like a lot of hard work? Roll on the future!







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