TECH: Dubai Sets Big Goals for Autonomous Cars

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Dubai Autonomous Screen Shot

Everyone is in a rush to get autonomous cars on the road, whether or not the public is ready for the idea. Right now they’re in testing across the world with limitations on how they are operated, but Dubai plans to embrace the idea with a lofty new goal. It wants 25 percent of its transportation to be autonomous by 2030.

It’s a part of the city’s Dubai Autonomous Transportation Strategy and is expected to save an incredible $6 billion a year. That money comes from reduced transportation costs, carbon emissions, and accidents combined with increased productivity. People waste a lot of time behind the wheel, but they can take that time back with an autonomous vehicle.

How comfortable are you with self-driving technology? Take the MIT survey.

According to ITS International, Dubai estimates transportation costs will drop 44 percent and pollution will drop by 12 percent. Traffic accidents will also drop by 12 percent, which nets a savings of $544 million per year.

Their deadline is only 14 years away, but studies conducted by the World Economic Forum show the public is already on board with the idea of autonomous cars. They say a whopping 70 percent of Dubai residents would rather an autonomous car than one driven by a human.

It all sounds pretty good on paper, but whether they can pull it off in such a short timeframe is debatable.

Although we have autonomous vehicles testing on roads right now, they’re still far from ready to be left completely without human intervention. Engineers are still tweaking systems to account for the huge number of scenarios humans deal with every day.

Aside from getting the technology to work in every conceivable situation, there’s still the challenge of handling the legal complications. Who is responsible when a self-driving car gets in a fender bender? Is it the automaker, the vehicle’s owner, the company that wrote the software, or the manufacturer of the hardware?

There’s a lot more to the autonomous car puzzle than simply creating technology that works.

Still, Dubai thinks it’s got this one and is moving ahead with plans to lead the autonomous car movement. They want to make the UAE a leader in future technologies from autonomous cars to sustainable infrastructure to clean energy.

They also launched the Dubai World Autonomous Transportation Challenge to speed the process. It’s designed to encourage companies, researchers, and academic institutions to develop solutions specifically tailored to the city of Dubai.

They have 14 years to get it all figured out and turn their goals into reality.

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