Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) is working with officials in Dubai to evaluate the use of hybrid cars and plug-ins as part of the city's plan to modernize transportation by shifting from gasoline engines to electric and hybrid vehicles.
Other major proposals include public self-driving buses that are now operating in downtown neighborhoods, and an ambitious plan to employ Chinese-built ‘Ehang 184’ passenger drones to take individual travelers around the city.
“These are exciting times, as Dubai seeks to lead the region in the move towards executing an innovative shift and becoming one of the world's first fully-fledged smart cites,” Akin Adamson, TRL's Middle East director, said. “We are now seeing the introduction of newer makes and models of electric and plug-in hybrid cars being recommended as a practical choice for some drivers. TRL is aiming to consolidate its front-line role in helping to shape the future of transport by offering its research, covering areas such as autonomous and connected vehicles, ultra-low emission vehicles and smart cites/transportation innovations to help Dubai realize its vision of having a sustainable transport system that can fully complement its smart city status.”
TRL's project is the latest of Dubai's “smart city” efforts, which have strived to ramp up the economy while innovating. In 2016, the city held a “smartpreneur” crowdsourcing competition that sought to meet sustainability and energy efficiency goals.
Although TRL is also advising Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain and Egypt, its efforts in the United Arab Emirates are unique. The UAE's leadership has been single-minded about exploring the possibilities that other nations are not.
“Dubai is making great strides in its rapid embrace of innovation, especially towards its move to become one of the world’s first fully fledged ‘Smart Cities,’” Adamson told the Gulf News Journal.
Adamson said preparations are currently underway to adopt many "smart mobility" concepts as Dubai looks to host Expo 2020.
“TRL is ideally placed to support Dubai by leveraging its pedigree of cutting-edge research across rapidly emerging areas like connected and autonomous vehicles, ultra-low emission vehicles and smart city/transportation innovations,” Adamson said. “The Emirates has a rapidly evolving transportation system that continues to change based on the growing and future needs of its equally increasing population. We feel that we are well positioned to help Dubai in its continuing quest to create a safe, accessible and fully sustainable transport systems that can address all of the challenges and opportunities presented to them.”