EasyMile trials self-driving buses in Dubai and Finland

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As well as the launch of a pilot project in Western Australia yesterday (September 1), two more electric driverless shuttle bus trials have started in the last few weeks, with tests being run in Europe and the Middle East.

French company EasyMile has delivered its EZ10 driverless shuttles to Finland, where they have been launched onto the public roads of Helsinki as part of a pilot project called Sohjoa. The project is coordinated by Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, and it aims to solve the challenges of urban mobility, and also find the best solutions for city traffic, safety and user experience. The EZ10 driverless shuttles will be running in real traffic conditions in Finland, sequentially at three different locations, Helsinki, Espoo and Tampere, for one year. The service has started in Helsinki and will stop when the first snow of winter falls, to focus on vehicle testing under extreme weather conditions and will resume service in spring 2017. The EZ10 driverless shuttles were previously deployed in Vantaa for a month’s trial during the summer of 2015, as part of the European CityMobil2 project.

In Dubai, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), in collaboration with Emaar Properties, is starting the trial run of the first autonomous 10-seater car shuttling over a 2,300 feet (700m) long track at the Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard. The EZ10 was previously showcased in Dubai in April this year, during the MENA Transport Congress & Exhibition 2016 organized by the RTA and UITP (International Association of Public Transport). EasyMile, and its Emirati partner Omnix International have supplied the vehicle, which is designed to travel short distances over pre-programmed routes in multi-use environments. The vehicle travels on virtual routes, which can easily be reset to accommodate sudden changes as required.

Mattar Al Tayer, director-general and chairman of the RTA said, “The trial run of the smart vehicle at the Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard represented the phase one of this technology. This experiment is also part of RTA’s plan to test driverless transit technology under the climatic environment of Dubai. Through this trial run of the smart vehicle, we intend to educate the public about autonomous cars technology and the experimental use of the technology in Dubai’s climatic conditions.

The experience also elucidates the smart driverless mobility strategy launched by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice-president and prime minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, aimed at switching 25% of total mobility journeys in Dubai into driverless journeys using various transit means by 2030. It also aims to screen the views and responses of residents and visitors about the driverless mobility experience using a survey measuring satisfaction rating.”

Mohammed Ali Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties, said, “We thank RTA for supporting our plans aimed at using driverless cars in Dubai downtown. The trial run of the vehicle is a further testament to the firm commitment of the Emirate to encouraging sustainable transit means that are compatible with Dubai Plan 2021 for building a technologically-connected smart city.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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