The driverless 12-seater shuttle will transport students and staff around the Sas Al Nakhl Campus in Abu Dhabi


The autonomous vehicle launched by Khalifa University is a 12-seater shuttle. (Credit: Claudio Pires de Olivera from Pixabay)

UAE-based Khalifa University has launched an autonomous vehicle, the first of its kind to have been deployed on-campus in the Middle Eastern country.

The driverless 12-seater shuttle is planned to transport students and staff around the Sas Al Nakhl (SAN) Campus in Abu Dhabi.

According to the university, the 100% electric shuttle can move around in a ‘real environment’ off campus as well, thereby introducing smart sustainable mobility to the community and playing a part in the sustainable development initiatives of the UAE.

Khalifa University said that the autonomous vehicle can be deployed in a ‘mixed traffic mode’ in the country as it is capable of driving on the road with other cars.

The autonomous vehicle from Khalifa University is designed to identify and avoid potential obstacles by using its onboard sensors, light detection and ranging (LiDAR) cameras, odometry, GPS, and inertial measurement units.

It also features onboard Wi-Fi communications to capture data created during operation.

Khalifa University claimed that the shuttles operate safely and effectively in various types of environments such as varying traffic conditions that include segregated roads, mixed traffic with low-speed cars, mixed traffic with bicycles and pedestrians, and changing weather conditions.

Abu Dhabi Member of the Executive Council and Khalifa University of Science and Technology trustee board chairman Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said: “The autonomous vehicle at Khalifa University’s SAN Campus reflects the University’s commitment to contribute to Abu Dhabi’s Vision 2030 targets towards creating a knowledge economy, and making Abu Dhabi a world hub of research and development.

“It also contributes towards driving innovation while creating knowledge and human capital. Congratulations to the faculty, researchers and student engineers who have done a commendable job by making us proud of such an achievement by a local university in the UAE.”

Furthermore, the shared transportation solution, which is environment-friendly, will give a platform to faculty and researchers at the Khalifa University Centre for Robotics and Autonomous Systems (KU-CARS) for researching and developing. It will enable them to study how autonomous driving works in challenging situations.

KU-CARS, which has nearly 50 researchers and laboratory facilities, is said to offer a multidisciplinary environment for carrying out research and innovation related to robotics and autonomous vehicles.