First in UAE; Khalifa University unveils driverless autonomous vehicle

By Arya M Nair, Official Reporter
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KU Autonomous Car
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UAE’s Khalifa University of Science and Technology has launched an autonomous vehicle (AV), the UAE’s first driverless, self-driving 12-seater shuttle that will transport students and staff around the Sas Al Nakhl Campus.

His Highness Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Executive Council of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Khalifa University of Science and Technology witnessed the launch of the AV and the signing of a $46.2 million operating agreement for the Emirates ICT Innovation Center (EBTIC) by the three founders Khalifa University, Etisalat, and British Telecommunications (BT), in addition to UAE’s Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA).

Khalifa University has thus become the first university in the UAE to deploy an AV on campus that can also run in a ‘real environment’ off campus, bringing smart sustainable mobility to the community and contributing to the UAE’s sustainable development initiatives.

The driverless, all-electric shuttle is one of the first autonomous vehicles to be deployed in the UAE in a ‘mixed traffic mode,’ indicating it can drive along with other vehicles. The environment-friendly shared transportation solution will also provide a research and development platform to faculty and researchers at the Khalifa University Centre for Robotics and Autonomous Systems (KU-CARS), to investigate autonomous driving in challenging scenarios.

Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Member of Abu Dhabi Executive Council
Chairman – Board of Trustees of Khalifa University

“The autonomous vehicle at Khalifa University’s SAN Campus reflects the University’s commitment to contribute to Abu Dhabi’s Vision 2030 targets towards creating a knowledge economy and making Abu Dhabi a world hub of research and development. It also contributes towards driving innovation while creating knowledge and human capital. Congratulations to the faculty, researchers and student engineers who have done a commendable job by making us proud of such an achievement by a local university in the UAE.”

The onboard sensors, Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) cameras, GPS, odometry and inertial measurement units in the Khalifa University AV can detect and avoid potential obstacles. The shuttles are also equipped with Wi-Fi communications to capture data generated during operation. The shuttles run safely and effectively in a wide range of environments as well as changing weather conditions.

During his visit, Sheikh Hamed met with students from ‘Al Nokhba’ program, who are also members of National and Reserve Service, in the presence of Brigadier-General Mr. Obaid Ali Al-Mansoori, Director of the Directorate of Information and Corporate Communication, National and Reserve Service Authority, and discussed research projects related to autonomous shuttles.

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