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25% des transports seront sans chauffeur d’ici 2030 à Dubaï

Le Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum a annoncé que 25 % du système de transport routier de Dubaï utilisera l’intelligence artificielle et, par conséquent, être sans conducteur d’ici 2030.

La Dubaï Future Foundation a établi un partenariat avec l’Autorité des routes et des transports dans un effort de garder Dubaï dans la course de la ville la plus intelligente et la plus futuriste du monde. Dans cet esprit, il a été annoncé que les voitures autonomes honoreront la ville en 2030 pour remplacer un quart de leur système de transport routier actuel. La stratégie devrait générer des revenus économiques et des économies allant jusqu’à Dh22 billion par an (US $ 6,2 milliards), a déclaré Son Altesse Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Vice-président et Premier ministre des Émirats arabes unis et souverain de Dubaï.

En juillet dernier, nous vous avions parlé d’un système de transport intelligent basé sur des essaims de véhicules auto-conduits modulaires, de la société Next. Après certaines annonces sur leur compte Twitter, nous avons contacté le co-fondateur PDG, Emmanuel Spera, afin d’avoir confirmation, si NEXT fait bien partie de la communication en vedette dans l’annonce de Son Altesse :

Why do you think your design was featured? 

We believe that we were featured because we offer a compelling, elegant solution to the problem of mass transit anywhere in the world.  Traditionally, mass transit suffers from the first and last mile problem, while optimizing the middle segment of the commute (trains, metro, buses, etc). In contrast, personal transport optimizes the first and last mile, and causes enormous congestion in the middle.

NEXT offers the best of both worlds.  We have designed an electric, autonomous, modular unit that can connect together (initially at rest stops, and in the future in motion), thus creating a flexible, scalable bus system. The commuter can order a NEXT unit to pick from the home in a ride-share paradigm. In the main commute, the modules act together like a bus, with maximum utilization of load factor. In the last mile, the commuter moves to the module that reaches his or her final destination.

There is no other solution in the market that compares to the NEXT solution that we are aware of. 

We believe that His Highness might have reviewed various possibilities but was most impressed by the simplicity, elegance and sophistication of the NEXT solution.

Is there anything about your transportation solution that makes it particularly suitable to Dubai?

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Indeed.  Dubai is an orderly city, of long distances, with significant separation between places of residence and places of work and entertainment. In such an environment, NEXT offers an elegant solution to transport people. Furthermore, the growth of the city can now be more creative and expansive, without worrying about expensive Metro construction which limits geographical spread.

In time, we believe that NEXT modules will be used for intra-city commuting as well. Our concept includes the notion of specialized modules such as restaurant services, sleeping units, entertainment modules and office modules for working while commuting. 

Furthermore, NEXT is an electric battery system.  We would imagine that the UAE would rapidly move to large solar farms, that could charge the battery modules, thereby creating a greener future.

Have you had any direct contact with anyone in the Dubai government, or can you speculate why you might have been chosen?

We have had no contact with anyone from the Dubai government yet.  We have written to his Highness by Royal Mail, using the UAE government website.

What is the status of NEXT Future Transportation? How far along are you with building prototypes and systems?

The NEXT transportation system is based on five years of extensive design and engineering.  We have built model scale prototypes and we are working on a full scale prototype in Silicon Valley.  Our focus is on the core of the NEXT modular system, defining the individual module and the connectivity between modules. We are actively looking for strategic partners for batteries, propulsion, steering, etc.  Our intent is to implement for early adopters such as the UAE and other smart cities, and then license our technologies to automotive manufacturers for volume production.

Do you plan to complete for the Request for Proposals that HH Mohammed announced? 

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We see the RFP being mentioned, but have not yet seen a copy of it. If you have it, kindly do send it to us.

Do you think the goals (and associated savings) he announced are realistic?

The timing is certainly realistic to achieve 25% of transportation trips by autonomous transport.  Already, Google and Tesla have shown us that autonomous driving is ready, and it is regulatory and certification which are gating issues, rather than technology.  However, it is important to note that driverless, autonomous cars will only increase the congestion, leading to greater numbers of single person trips and many zero person trips, as the vehicle goes to pick up its passenger.  Thus, autonomous cars will be wonderful for safety and convenience, but will not reduce congestion.

In contrast, the NEXT solution will actually reduce the congestion on the highways by maximizing the occupancy inside the connected bus, and will optimize the number of units that make the bus.  Therefore, savings are far more likely to occur with the NEXT solution. The quantum of savings for Dubai will need to be computed, depending on the city’s routes, fleet size and cost, utilization of public transport, reduction in costs of batteries, degree of autonomy and other factors.

On a related note, we have been provided a Letter of Intent to supply units for a German town, which is keen to reduce diesel buses and replace them with the NEXT solution.  

In conclusion, we believe that we can make His Highness’ vision come true and we look forward to the opportunity to be a part of it.

pour en savoir plus :

Credit NEXT future transportation inc. Transports routiers et ferroviaires

Credit NEXT future transportation inc. Transports routiers et ferroviaires