“AI is the brain of autonomous driving”

Interview with Khaled Al Awadhi, Transport Systems Department and Road & Transport Authority in Dubai

Interview with Khaled Al Awadhi, Transport Systems Department and Road & Transport Authority in Dubai
Interview with Khaled Al Awadhi, Transport Systems Department and Road & Transport Authority in Dubai

Bildnachweis: (C) Dubai Economy and Tourism.

Gitex Global is the world’s largest tech and start-up event and gathers more than 5,000 companies and more than 100,000 visitors from 170 countries.. As a hub between Europe, Asia and Africa, the Dubai-based venue offers an insight into the various start-up ecosystems, innovations and technology-driven revolutions of digitalisation. In the interview series „Gitex Global 2022“, experts, founders and investors share their insights and take a look into the digital future. 

VC Magazin: What is special about the region of Dubai?

Al Awadhi: I would like to tell you about the future of transportation in the city of Dubai. Dubai has already introduced transportation for smart mobility in 2016, which aims at transforming 25% of daily trips by year 2030 using simpler driving transportation systems. This is one of the very innovative strategies of the city of Dubai to transform. And the aim is actually to make the transportation more safer, more environmentally friendly, introducing cost saving on the infrastructure by having smarter mobility modes and also self-driving. Also the strategy is focused on different modes of transport, so this is not about a single bullet. It’s a multi-modal strategy that focuses on the metro, on autonomous taxis, buses and tram systems, autonomous even in marine transport. So it’s a multimodal strategy where we are aiming to change and transform the movement of people around the city of Dubai as well as the mission of more safer and more environmentally friendly systems in the city.

VC Magazin: What are your priorities to achieve safety, for example?

Al Awadhi: When we are working on any transportation project, we make sure that safety is embedded as part of the delivery of that mode and delivery of the project. So with that we cannot compromise. And that’s why when we actually develop any new modes, we make sure that we apply the international standards. And also we assure international standards when it comes to controlling safety. One of  the current projects that we are implementing is a partnership with a company that is providing 4000 robotaxis. Furthermore, we have already defined a very clear pathway on how to create stage gates until we are launching the service. So we will be starting with the trials that will be having a person to act as a safety operator. First I think we will be moving in private, but we also engage the public for feedback with drivers and then at that point of time will be deciding (once everything is mature) if it is safe to remove the driver and then launch the service.

VC Magazin: What role does artificial intelligence play in your plans and strategy?

Al Awadhi: AI definitely plays a huge role in all the new modes. Especially in the context of self-driving vehicles, which is completely based on high computation capabilities and AI. Also computer vision is a main driver of it. And this is actually the backbone of those services to run because you need to have a system that is very efficient and make a decision on the spot. Understand the safety features for example to hit the break to avoid any undesired situations. So all of this is definitely driven by AI – using the hardware – which acts like the brain of these systems.

VC Magazin: Are there any special departments and key people to realize the AI strategy in Dubai?

Al Awadhi:   First of all we are looking for public private partnership. A start-up develops this system and we are the public partner that will be enabling them access to the right infrastructure, the physical infrastructure and all the digital infrastructure that will be required to operate and provide the service in a smooth way to our customers.

VC Magazin: What do you wish for the future of transportation in Dubai for the next years?

Al Awadhi: The focus will definitely be on safer and more efficient transportation systems. These are some main pillars that we will be focusing on in the future.

VC Magazin: What are your expectations at Gitex 2022 and what would you want to achieve with your presence at the venue?

Al Awadhi: We want to create that engagement. We want to create that awareness and we would love to get feedback from the public, either being individual or either of the public entities or private entities, to learn from each other and also to basically promote the plan and to educate the people that we are on top of our plan and we are on the top of our commitment to deliver these projects.

VC Magazin: Thank you very much for the interview.


Khaled Al Awadhi is the director of the transport systems department and road and transport authority in Dubai.