Dubai is revolutionising road safety, working with local and international technology and artificial intelligence specialists to develop cutting-edge applications.
As part of the Smart Dubai strategy, which aims to position the city as the world’s smartest by 2021, Dubai is investing heavily in developing world-first technologies designed to make Dubai’s highways and streets among the safest on the planet.
While Dubai is famous for its ultra-modern road networks comprising multi-lane motorways that run the length of the emirate, like all other major cities, motor vehicle accidents are an issue.
According to the Dubai Police, the city’s 2017 road toll was a fraction of global averages, with only 3.2 people per 100,000 road users losing their lives on Dubai’s roads. The figure was a 25 per cent decline on just one year prior - a major improvement. The 2017 figure equates to 3.2 people per 100,000 road users, according to a statement by a Roads and Transport Authority official.
Technology in focus
Still, city authorities believe the risk of motor vehicle accidents can be reduced further – and even nullified in cases – through the application of new technologies being developed in Dubai.
The emirate is already one of the world’s leading proponents of autonomous vehicle development – by 2030 it is planned for one-quarter of all vehicles on Dubai’s roads to be driverless. Officials are harnessing the potential of artificial intelligence (AI), transport surveillance and data analysis to create applications which will predict driver behaviour, monitor traffic flows and combat potential dangers before they can lead to accidents.
In early 2018, Dubai Police launched Project Oyoon – a highly sophisticated, AI-predictive platform that utilises thousands of CCTV and traffic monitoring cameras across the city “to prevent crime and reduce traffic accidents”.
“The project is an effective translation of the UAE’s strategy for artificial intelligence to achieve its objectives of relying on services, data analysis and smart application in various fields of work efficiently and effectively,” commented Major General Ibrahim Khalil Al Mansouri, assistant commander for Criminal Investigations of Dubai Police, at the project’s launch.
Employing AI, the system will identify potential dangers on the city’s roads and alert local area command to likely incidents before they happen. Using the network of cameras, the system will also help police determine the fastest route to the site of accidents or other emergencies by monitoring traffic flows in real time.
The Dubai government is also using the Smart City plan to work with private partners to develop and test other technologies designed to make the emirate’s roads safer. Dubai-based start-up Derq is developing early-warning prevention technology that utilises roadside scanners and vehicle-fitted devices to monitor traffic for hazards. The technology then alerts drivers in the vicinity to the risks before an accident can occur. Derq is working with partners including the Dubai RTA and Smart Dubai to trial the technology.
“GCC road safety is a big problem and this is a difficult problem to solve. The technology uses artificial intelligence coupled with connected vehicle technology to prevent car accidents,” Dr Georges Aoude, the co-founder of Derq, told The National in 2017.
“If we can predict this behaviour – [but] not at the last second because that’s too late – then you would have enough time to react and avoid that accident that could have been fatal or caused injuries.”
Building AI tech into cars
German tyre manufacturer Continental recently teamed with RoadSafetyUAE to introduce an intelligent tyre condition monitoring system for commercial vehicles and fleets. The technology monitors tyre pressures and their overall condition and sends data to a smart device installed in the vehicle warning the driver of possible degradation.
US company Emotiv recently presented its ‘brainwear’ technology in Dubai, which it says can predict when a driver is likely to become distracted while behind the wheel of their vehicle. It’s designed to then alert them before a potential incident occurs. The technology employs a headset that monitors brainwaves combined with predictive AI created using data from trials involving more than 120,000 people in 120 countries.
Speaking at the World Government Summit in Dubai in February, Emotiv president Olivier Oullier said the technology could promote a revolutionary approach to automotive design.
“With intelligent systems and connected artificial intelligence, the car itself will prevent an accident or any level of dangerous driving,” he said.
Whether coming from a local start-up or an international brand expanding to Dubai, the future-focused approach by the Dubai government and a pro-innovation investment structure was ready to take each innovation along its path. From ideation to design, manufacturing, testing and rollout, Dubai had the groundwork in place to bring these exciting new ideas to life.