Paving their way into the new age of eco-friendly solutions, Saudi Arabia launches its very first self-driving buses. King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) launched the buses on Wednesday, in Thuwal on the Red Sea Coast.
This momentous launch took place in a very special ceremony by KAUST President Tony Chan during which several prominent figures, including senior officials and executives, attended the ceremony. Later, the guests boarded the bus for a ride on the campus.
This project came as a result of a collaboration between global leaders in autonomous vehicles, Local Motors by LM Industries, EasyMile and the Saudi Public Transport Co. (SAPTCO).
With a view to starting regular commuter services for students and staff early next year, two driverless shuttles, nicknamed Olli and EZ10, will undergo trials on the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) campus.
Easily accessible and environment-friendly, these shuttles are fully electric. The shuttles on the KAUST campus use mapping, cognitive response technology, light detection and ranging (Lidar), and obstacle avoidance systems to control, navigate and drive the vehicles.
KAUST Chief Chan said that KAUST is one of the premier universities that is connected to the world and is keen on practicing what the university is teaching its students who belong to around 100 nationalities.
Over 11,000 published papers to date, KAUST has 19 research areas related to these themes and state-of-the-art labs.
KAUST’s head of digital experience and innovation, Mohamed Abdel-Aal, told Arab News: “They’re electric, running on battery, not petrol. They are connected to the internet and communicate with a central command center, and are autonomous, self-driving.”
Speaking on the topic of “New mobility solutions in Saudi Arabia,” Eng. Khalid Al-Hoqail, CEO of SAPTCO, said that “The project is in alignment with one of SAPTCO’s strategic pillars, which is focusing on providing digital and mobility solutions. We look forward to the future of our partnership with KAUST to develop advanced mobility solutions that contribute to the realization of the Saudi Vision 2030,” he added.