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Ahmed bin Saeed honours winners of the 2nd Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport

Under the patronage of Hamdan bin Mohammed ..Ahmed bin Saeed honours winners of the 2nd Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport

The competition, held by RTA under the theme ‘Self-Driving Logistics’, offered prizes over AED6 million

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman and CEO of Emirates Airline and Group, honoured the winners of the 2nd Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport. The competition, held by Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) under the theme ‘Self-Driving Logistics’, offered prizes over AED6 million.

His Highness honoured the winners during a ceremony held at the Dubai World Trade Centre, in the presence of His Excellency Mattar Mohammed Al Tayer, Director-General, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the Roads and Transport Authority.

During the ceremony, His Highness also announced the launch of the 3rd Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport under the theme ‘Self-Driving Buses’.

His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum and the attendees watched a movie about the Dubai World Congress for Self-Driving Transport, which was held as part of RTA’s efforts to support the Dubai Strategy for Smart Self-Driving Transport, launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The strategy calls for transforming 25% of total mobility journeys in Dubai into smart and driverless journeys by 2030. The one-day congress was attended by international experts and specialists, policymakers, technology developers, researchers and academia as well as the global leaders of innovation and technologies of connected and autonomous vehicles.

Future Aspirations
During a keynote speech delivered at the ceremony, Sebastian Thrun, Professor at Stanford, founder of Google X, CEO of Kitty Hawk for flying vehicles and the Godfather of Self-Driving Cars and Google Waymo, said: “When it comes to mobility innovation, Dubai is the most forward-looking city in the world. The Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport has made a substantial contribution to leveraging the self-driving transport technologies, and attracting global firms to Dubai,” he said.
"Challenges played a big role in my private life. In 2005, the US government launched the DARPA Grand Challenge, in which 196 teams from different countries took part. It focused on building a driverless car that can travel 130 miles across the Mojave Desert. The Stanford Team, in which I was a member, won the competition. Then I moved on to Google, where the challenge was to build an autonomous car that can drive safely on any road in California.

“What distinguishes the Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport is that it is comprehensive and unique worldwide. RTA has an ambitious vision and strategy in the field of self-driving transport, which encompasses all means of transportation and drones,” he added.

Dubai Challenge
The 2nd Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport saw the participation of 31 academic institutions and international companies. 13 candidates qualified for the final stage of the Challenge, including six companies in the category of Leading Companies, namely: Neolix from China, Arti from Austria, iAuto from Taiwan, Yandex from Russia, Kiwi Bot from the United States of America, and Life Touch from Italy.

In the Local Universities and Research Centres (Academia) category, seven candidates qualified for the finals, namely: New York University Abu Dhabi, Khalifa University of Science and Technology, Rochester Institute of Technology Dubai, American University of Sharjah, University of Sharjah, and the University of Dubai. The challenge is devoted to Self-driving Logistical Services, including ground transport and drones. Over six weeks, the qualified projects and initiatives were subjected to various tests at a testing site in the Dubai Silicon Oasis.

Participants were evaluated based on three key elements: the first: safety, which included reliability, visibility handling, interaction with pedestrians, and speed control. The second element was usability, which included speed, ease of use, cargo safety and understandable behaviour. The third element was: the level of maturity and included passing the scenario and operator interaction, path planning, detection and prediction.

The honoured winners included Neolix (China) in partnership with Gaussin (France), and Yandex (Russia), who all shared the first position in the Leading Companies Award (Pioneers). Each winning company got US$700,000.

Neolix Project focused on a vehicle equipped with a platform that can be configured for different use scenarios, with the highest payload capacity among all participants to enable simultaneous delivery of several goods. The system is characterised by its adaptability to different scopes of operational design, road and pedestrian zone scenarios, and a well-designed driving programme focused on the safety of pedestrians, road users and packages during the various stages of transportation.

Yandex Ground Vehicle project offers a comprehensive solution in terms of mechanical design, automated driving programmes, and an integrated application. It is also characterised by a strong performance in coping with dynamic, static and environmental obstacles, vehicle speed, and its ability to deliver the largest number of packages among the vehicles taking part in the challenge.

Local Academia
Winners in the category of local universities and research centres included Khalifa University, who won the Ground Robots and got US$100,000 for designing a robot featuring a unique mechanical design tailored to rugged conditions and terrain. It has a driving programme focused on risk management strategies, touchless package delivery, and the successful clearing of tests and obstacles.

The American University of Sharjah came second and won US$50,000 for a robot equipped with a set of advanced sensors and a built-in approach for detecting obstacles. The robotic equipment and peripheral devices have been entirely designed and built by the team. The robot succeeded fairly in the plotting of the route and the avoidance of obstacles.
In the field of drones, New York University Abu Dhabi was the winner and received a prize of US$100,000 for a project that combines multiple helicopters in one plane. It can lift large or asymmetric payloads and packages up to three kilograms with stable performance with an advanced testing infrastructure. It has a command centre that enables a fast and safe development process, and well-planned routes to improve safety.

Khalifa University finished second and won US$50,000 for a modified drone fitted with a dedicated cargo compartment. It is characterised by rapid development and high reliability, and the ability to quickly deliver supplies in urban areas.

The sponsors and supporters of the global event were also honoured during the ceremony. The strategic sponsors were Evocargo and Keolis. The supporting partners were the Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, which provided testing facilities, infrastructure and civil works for the Challenge as well as the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, which provided support and approval for drone tests.

Congress Sessions
As part of the Dubai World Congress for Self-Driving Transport, participants reviewed the future of the development of self-driving technologies and technological infrastructure and the formation of legislation related to self-driving transport. Dr Sebastian Thrun, a professor at Stanford University, addressed the topic of self-driving technologies between the past and the future. Scheherazade Zekri, Director of the New Mobility Services at Keolis Group spoke about the global market for self-driving vehicles. Eng. Muammar Al Kathiri, Executive Vice President for Engineering Affairs at the Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority spoke about Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority ‘SANDBOX’, the MENA region’s first-of-its-kind programme to support early-stage technology projects in their foundation stages and help with their finance. Dr Steven Shladover, Chairman of the Jury Committee of the Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport, spoke about the safety of self-driving, namely regulations and data.

The Congress included a discussion panel about the challenges and global trends of self-driving transport technology. The speakers included Andrei Bolshakon, Founder and Chief Business Development Officer at EvoCargo, and Professor Arnaud de La Fortelle, Co-founder and CTO of Heex Technologies. Dr Ismail Zohdy, RTA expert in self-driving transport moderated the session.


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