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Dubai Future Accelerators: Autonomous Vehicles and Augmented Reality Are the Future of Dubai’s Transportation

July 11, 2020

In an effort to accelerate innovation across the mobility ecosystem, Dubai Future Accelerators (DFA), an initiative of Dubai Future Foundation (DFF), in partnership with the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), announced the completion of its successful global startup programme, Cohort 7.

The seventh edition of the in-residence program presented a unique opportunity for startups to work side by side with RTA to test innovations that could revolutionize the future of mobility, and enable more sustainable, automated and personalized travel within Dubai. The programme included a series of challenges proposed by RTA, which focused on finding tech-solutions in the fields of futuristic wayfinding and smart monitoring systems for a safe and seamless autonomous public transport.

Two international startups, VRCraftworks from the United Kingdom (UK) and Sensible 4 from Finland were selected from a group of hundreds of applicants from across the globe to build and test solutions to tackle Dubai’s unique transportation challenges and further support RTA in its search to find advanced mobility solutions.

The companies were immersed in a nine-week accelerator program,  planned and organised by DFA and RTA to adapt and test their solutions their world-leading solutions in Dubai. Throughout the cohort, the startups were working hand-in-hand with RTA to understand the current processes related to wayfinding and autonomous driving and how their solutions can be localised to meet RTA’s requirements. In addition to this, the startups participated in several expert-led workshops and webinars organised by DFA and were introduced to a variety of relevant stakeholders from DFA’s ecosystem.

At the end of the cohort, the companies presented their fully developed projects to RTA’s management that approved to pilot them in Dubai.

Saeed Al Falasi, Executive Director – Future Design and Acceleration at DFF said:
“We are pleased to be the enabler of what will be considered “transformational pilot projects” in Dubai mobility future. One of the imperatives for Dubai Future Accelerators is to offer meaningful opportunities for the startups around the world, to accelerate their innovative projects by working closely with leading government entities such as RTA, and I’m glad that we can live up to the promise.”

Al Falasi called on all government entities in Dubai to participate in the upcoming cohort of the program, put forth their challenges, work closely with tech startups and innovators that are part of the Dubai Future Accelerators vast network to find innovative solutions and novel project, further enhancing government services and strategic sectors in Dubai.

Moaza Al Marri, Executive Director, Office of the Director General, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors, and Head of the Steering Committee of Shaping the Future at RTA said:
“Smart transportation is essential for Dubai’s development; it acts as a lifeline for the smooth functioning of the city.  Thanks to the Dubai Future Accelerators programme, and in working closely with our partner startups, the pilot projects will enhance the public transit experience and provide world-class services for all citizens, residents and tourists alike, through the use of advanced technologies.”

Futuristic Wayfinding in Public Transport Systems by VRCraftworks  
VRCraftworks, a UK-based startup, was chosen by RTA for their personalised solutions in wayfinding using Augmented Reality. Using a mobile device, VRCraftwork’s software solution allows people to navigate their way around the complex spaces of the Dubai Metro, Bus and Tram Station. The technology integrates with the map of the indoor space, understands the user’s location and uses virtual paths and arrows to help them find their destination.

Jack Maddalena, Sales Director at VRCraftworks said:
“My experience with the DFA and RTA team and programme was an ideal opportunity for me to meet experts and practitioners from the field who added value to my project and gain me the necessary knowledge that added a lot to my project, and make it especially useful to address the local need. What we bring to the RTA will not only change how people travel around Dubai but change how people think about transport. This partnership with RTA is a great way to showcase our solution on a grand scale, furthermore, allowing us to gain trust with new clients and investors.”

Throughout the initiative, VRCraftworks, along with RTA, carried out different site visits within the Dubai public transportation stations to understand the set-up of these areas and identified how the solutions for wayfinding can be applied.

GACHA, the Self-Driving Bus by Sensible 4
GACHA, the world’s first autonomous shuttle bus for all weather conditions, was launched last year in Finland to enhance the experience of millions of people every day. An invention by startup Sensible 4, GACHA’s driverless technology specialises in full-stack autonomous driving software for shared driverless vehicles. Sensible 4 will bring the GACHA bus to launch its first pilot in Sustainable City in Dubai, the first operational Net Zero Energy city in Dubai
Sensible 4’s unique technology, including superior positioning, navigation and obstacle detection ensures that the autonomous shuttle bus can operate in all weathers, regardless of the environmental conditions.

Tommi Rimpiläinen, COO at Sensible 4 said: “DFA and its programme has offered us the window to understanding Dubai’s entrepreneurship landscape. The spirit of co-creation of the future was prominent throughout the programme. We’re very excited to pilot our technology with the Roads and Transport Authority in Dubai, the city of the future. Dubai is a place with a very ambitious target for autonomous driving, and this makes it also one of the most forward-thinking places in the world for self-driving mobility. Our focus has been on solving the critical issues related to challenging weather for driverless transportation, such as extreme heat, sand, dust and fog. A partnership with RTA is a great honour for us.”

During the cohort, and with the support of RTA, Sensible 4 addressed some of the key questions for the GACHA bus to be trialed within the city. These answers focused on how the autonomous vehicle solution will be different compared to other similar solutions tested previously by RTA, suitable locations for testing, how the project will be adopted by the community in terms of accessibility and ease of using its services, and lastly, the different methods that will be used to evaluate the project’s success.