Their design might not be as fast or aesthetically appealing as those coming from automobile giants such as Tesla and Mercedes, but NEXT’s Future Transportation autonomous driving vehicle is moving beyond the concept stage and being put to use in real life.
The electric modules typically only reach around 20 kph (12.4 mph), but they are set to be up and running at the Expo 2020 event in the city of Dubai. The pods will offer short-range transportation for a portion of the presumed 25 million people to show up at the event.
Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is aiming on having 25 percent of travels in the city to be facilitated by self-driving transportation within the next 10 years. NEXT’s driverless modules along with some of their other concepts might be a significant factor in achieving these goals.
Why the pods are so much better
Last month, the Self-Driving Congress in the largest and most populated city in the United Arab Emirates brought together a variety of top manufacturers and aficionados from all over the planet. The highlight of the proceedings was a trial in the section of First and Last Mile Connections, which looks at the middle-men of the transport journey, where people are transferred between transport facilities, venues, and communities. The benefit of these pods is that they are already substantiated.
“We feel with these shuttle buses, the technology is quite mature,” says Ahmed Bahrozyan, Chief Executive Officer of the Public Transport Agency at the Roads and Transport Authority in Dubai. “They only go up to 20-30 kilometers per hour so are quite difficult to integrate with normal traffic, but they have proved they are useful in more confined cases such as university campuses.”
These types of vehicles could result in a vast improvement in the bustling commuter passages in Dubai. The NEXT pods can also engage with one another, meaning a number of them can merge into one unit, reducing the cluttered environment on the roads.
“Even if there is just one unit moving at a slow speed, it can move 10-15 passengers with the same traffic footprint as a traditional sedan car,” according to the company’s co-founder, Tommaso Gecchelin.