Ultra Fairwood to build the world’s largest autonomous vehicle transportation system in the UAE


Anglo-Indian joint venture Ultra Fairwood (UF) has signed a contract to build the world’s largest autonomous electric vehicle transportation system, which will operate in Ajman City in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The project will create a city-wide integrated transportation system that will feature a combination of PRT (personal rapid transit) and GRT (group rapid transit) vehicles. The PRT unit is a six-seater battery-powered driverless vehicle that uses rubber wheels running on an elevated guide way, creating a personal taxi which is demand-responsive to any user.

The PRT transports the users anywhere within the track network directly and without any stops. Stations are off-line, allowing the PRT pods to bypass all stations en route to the destination, thereby reducing travel time. It has been designed to operate as an energy-efficient and sustainable system.

The GRT system is a 30-passenger capacity driverless, electric vehicle that travels on a dedicated track, at grade and elevated. The GRT is a public transport system, which will integrate seamlessly with the PRT system.

Ultra Fairwood, along with its partners, has signed an agreement with the Government of Ajman to implement the combined PRT/GRT system within Ajman City. The system will act as a medium for efficient and effective mobility within the Ajman Core area. The project in Ajman will be implemented in two phases and will spread out across the whole city, connecting major tourist destinations, commercial districts, and residential zones.

Ultra Fairwood envisages the Ajman PRT/GRT system will provide ‘seamless connectivity’ for daily passengers/commuters in Ajman City. The proposed network will include 74.5 miles (120km) of track overall, including a total route length of 47.2 miles (76km), covering 115 stations. These will be served by a fleet of 1,745 vehicles, offering an expected system capacity of 1.64 million passenger trips per day.

The total capital expenditure value of the core project will be US$881m, and the system cost, supplied by Ultra Fairwood, will be US$723m. The Ultra Fairwood joint venture (JV) is a collaboration between the Indian multinational Fairwood Group and the UK-based Ultra Global PRT, which developed the world’s first commercial PRT system that has been in successful commercial operation at London’s Heathrow Airport for the last six years (below), where it has carried close to 1.5 million passengers, and completed over three million passenger miles. The PRT/GRT vehicles will be produced in India, in what will be the world’s largest autonomous vehicle production facility.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).