Driverless shuttles tested at Sharjah University City

DG Staff

SHARJAH 14 October 2020: ION, the UAE-based sustainable and smart transportation company, has conducted a successful pilot trial for its Navya Autonom autonomous shuttles at the University City of Sharjah.

The trial, which was overseen by Sharjah Police for traffic and safety reasons, was designed to assess the operational efficiency of the driverless shuttles’ capabilities within the educational district.

In addition to facilitating carbon-neutral mobility within the educational zone, the University City of Sharjah – which is among the world’s largest integrated educational district in the world – has the optimal infrastructure for operating next-generation technologies such as the autonomous electric vehicles. The experience also provided students with a practical example of future technologies while inspiring the UAE’s younger generation to channel their potential and creativity for the future, said official news agency Wam.

Intended to help students commute between colleges, the shuttles are equipped with a range of deep learning technologies, including 3D vision and environment recognition; automatic route navigation; IoT sensors for optimal safety, and motion-sensor doors. Driving seamless, smart, and sustainable mobility, the smart shuttles are emissions-free, wheelchair-accessible and have a capacity of 15 passengers.

The Navya shuttles are part of a larger fleet that has been operating at Masdar City since October 2018. ION announced a partnership with Navya, a leading company in autonomous driving systems, in January this year, to develop the concept of shared autonomous transport to the Mena region for the first time.

Khaled Al Huraimel, Group CEO of Bee’ah and Chairman at ION, said: “I am pleased to announce the successful completion of our Navya autonomous shuttle trials at Sharjah University City. The smart electric shuttles have the potential to offer regular and dependable services within the city, while reducing vehicular traffic and improving air quality.”

The Sharjah University City trials are the latest in a series of initiatives by ION to further the sustainability agenda for regional transport. In September, ION announced a partnership with Sharjah Roads & Transport Authority (Sharjah RTA), which coincided with World Electric Vehicle Day, to launch a new on-demand ride-hailing service in Sharjah, with a fleet of electric vehicles. The service will be available for the emirate of Sharjah by the end of 2020 and will expand to the rest of the UAE thereafter.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, ION’s electric vehicles and drivers were deployed, pro bono, for the transport of Sharjah Medical District’s doctors to facilitate home visits and Covid-19 testing. ION’s electric fleet was also utilised for medicine logistics services by University Hospital Sharjah for fast and efficient deliveries.

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