Dubai tests autonomous pods in drive for smart city

The world’s first autonomous pods were launched by the Roads and Transport Authority of Dubai. (Reuters)
Updated 01 March 2018

Dubai tests autonomous pods in drive for smart city

DUBAI: Dubai has begun testing autonomous pods in a trial run the Gulf’s trade and tourism hub hopes will help its transformation into one of the smartest cities in the world.
Officials from Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) displayed two cube-shaped vehicles built by US-based Next Future Transportation company in Italy as they spun around on a main street in Dubai.
Passersby stopped to try out the six-seat vehicles and question the Italian engineers overseeing the test.
RTA officials said they have allocated 1.5 million dirhams ($410,000) for further research and development of the vehicles, which Dubai hopes to use for local transportation under the city’s 2030 Dubai Future Accelerators, which aims to make 25 percent of daily transportation self-driven.
“The goal is to develop these two research vehicles,” Khaled Al-Awadhi, director of Automated Collection Systems at the RTA, said.
“These tests are aimed at developing the performance of these vehicles,” he added, without giving details on the cost of the project.
He said several projects were being developed, including self-driving buses and a marine transportation system.
The RTA says the autonomous pods would travel on pre-programmed routes in the first few years, but would eventually become accessible for pick up from home using a mobile telephone application. No date was provided for the start of either service. RTA officials said they hoped to have a more solid plan for the program by the end of 2018 or early 2019.
The vehicles are powered by electricity and have a top speed of 80 km (50 miles) per hour.
Dubai last year unveiled plans for a “flying taxi.”


‘Disappointed’ billionaire brothers urge new talks on Saudi bid for Newcastle FC

Updated 3 min 45 sec ago

‘Disappointed’ billionaire brothers urge new talks on Saudi bid for Newcastle FC

  • The Reuben brothers want to buy 10 per cent of the club as part of PIF takeover
  • Brothers remain 'totally supportive' of the deal should there be a way forward

DUBAI: Another big financial backer of the £300 million ($390 million) bid for Newcastle United football club has come out in favor of a takeover led by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

The Reuben brothers, multibillionaire businessmen who want to buy 10 per cent of the club, said on Monday they were “very disappointed” when the bid was withdrawn late last week after months of stalling by the Premier League in England.

“We would welcome any resurrection of talks and progress with the Premier League and are aware that the Reuben brothers remain totally supportive of the deal should there be a way forward,” said a statement from their company, Arena Racing.

The brothers’ renewed support for the deal will raise the pressure on Richard Masters, the Premier League chief executive, who has remained silent since the takeover offer was withdrawn last week.

PIF made no secret of its disappointment and frustration that the Premier League — which has the duty to approve or reject a takeover of a member club  — has reached no decision since contracts were exchanged on the deal in April that would give the Saudi sovereign wealth fund 80 per cent of the 128-year-old club

Amanda Staveley, the British financier who has been at the heart of the deal and would have bought the remaining 10 per cent, also wants to see the deal revived.

The Reuben brothers, who already run two horseracing courses in the northeast of England, said: “We were planning on creating one of the premier sporting hubs in the UK, undertaking development work that is vital for the region and enjoying valuable synergies with the football club.

“We continue to hope that those exciting plans are not in vain.”