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Abu Dhabi plans centre for autonomous vehicle industry

Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Khaled at a presentation for the planned autonomous vehicle industry cluster Wam
Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Khaled at a presentation for the planned autonomous vehicle industry centre
  • $33bn economic boost
  • Target of 50,000 jobs
  • Vehicles for air, land and sea

Abu Dhabi has unveiled plans to establish a centre for smart and autonomous vehicle industries which aims to add up to AED120 billion ($33 billion) to the UAE economy.

Crown Prince Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has endorsed the project, which seeks to generate 50,000 jobs.

Sheikh Khaled said it is part of Abu Dhabi’s ambitions to establish itself as a global leader in advanced industries and cutting-edge technologies. Gulf nations are increasingly focusing on the future of transport.

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The creation of the centre, which will develop driverless vehicles for air, land and sea, aims to build on the strength of the emirate’s aviation and aerospace industries.

Sheikh Khaled gave directives for strategic partnerships to be set up with industry leaders worldwide to both develop Emirati talent and attract the best from around the world.

The UAE cabinet in July granted the first preliminary national licence for self-driving cars to China-based WeRide, which will test a range of autonomous vehicles on local roads.

Prior to receiving the licence, WeRide’s Robotaxi had completed public testing. They also offered free rides to visitors to Saadiyat Island and Yas Island in Abu Dhabi in June in a vehicle called TXAI, launched in collaboration with AI firm Bayanat.

The Abu Dhabi announcement coincides with the launch of the National Automotive and Mobility Investment Company to build local manufacturing and supply chain capabilities for the automotive and mobility industry in Saudi Arabia.

PIF, Saudi’s sovereign wealth fund, has already made significant investments in the future of mobility, including establishing the first national EV brand, Ceer, and investing in US-based Lucid Motors. 

In Dubai, digital maps are being created in preparation for the launch of self-driving vehicles in the city. Its ruler passed a new law in April to support the driverless transport services sector.

Last year, US-based Cruise said it planned to have its autonomous vehicles on Dubai roads in 2023.

Self-driving transport has long been a goal of the transportation technology research community. As far back as the 1970s, early efforts in the US and the UK produced limited self-driving functionalities in automobiles.