World’s first ‘autonomous pods’ unveiled in Dubai – but what are they?

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The UAE’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA) showcased the world’s first driverless pods at the World Government Summit on Sunday.

The autonomous vehicles are meant to travel short to medium distances, and will have a capacity to accommodate 10 passengers (six seated and four standing), according to Gulf news.

The pods can travel attached, or separately depending on the riders’ destination. Each pod is fitted with a battery that can last up to three hours, and can be recharged over six hours.

Mattar al-Tayer, Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the RTA, said that these unique pods are part of the Dubai’s efforts to become the smartest city in the world.

“It echoes the Dubai Autonomous Transport Strategy aimed at converting 25 per cent of mobility journeys in Dubai to autonomous transportation by 2030,” al-Tayer told Gulf News.

“The move also contributes to achieving the integration of public transit means and people’s happiness through providing smooth, quick and innovative transit means,” he added.

The pod’s average speed is 20 kilometers per hour. Al-Tayer said that the pods run on a virtual pre-configured and programmed lane, and are overseen by an operational system, according to Gulf news.

The RTA also revealed that the self-driving vehicles can be ordered through any cellphone, offering a door-to-door service.