ION successfully completes trial of electric autonomous shuttles at Sharjah University City

The trial supports the University City of Sharjah’s vision as a global education hub for innovation and research and development.

Filed under
Sustainable Initiatives
October 13 2020
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ION, the UAE-based smart transportation company, announced the completion of a successful pilot trial for its NAVYA AUTONOM autonomous shuttles at the University City of Sharjah. The trial, which was overseen by Sharjah Police for traffic and safety reasons, was designed to assess the operational efficiency of the driverless shuttles’ capabilities within the educational district.

In addition to facilitating carbon-neutral mobility within the educational zone, the University City of Sharjah, which is among the world’s largest integrated educational districts in the world, has the optimal infrastructure for operating next-generation technologies such as the autonomous electric vehicles. The experience also provided students with a practical example of future technologies while inspiring the UAE’s younger generation to channel their potential and creativity for the future, as per the press release.

Intended to help students commute between colleges, the shuttles are equipped with a range of deep learning technologies, including 3D vision and environment recognition, automatic route navigation, IoT sensors for optimal safety, and motion-sensor doors. Driving seamless, smart, and sustainable mobility, the smart shuttles are emissions-free, wheelchair-accessible and have a capacity of 15 passengers.

“I am pleased to announce the successful completion of our NAVYA autonomous shuttle trials at Sharjah University City. The smart electric shuttles have the potential to offer regular and dependable services within the city, while reducing vehicular traffic and improving air quality,” said HE Khaled Al Huraimel, Group CEO of Bee’ah and Chairman at ION.

“ION is committed to dramatically transforming human movement and shared mobility solutions, while driving rapid and mass adoption of electric vehicles to limit vehicular exhaust emissions, reduce air pollution and encourage a more sustainable quality of life here in the UAE. We thank the university management and Sharjah Police for their collaboration as we seek to find mutually beneficial solutions,” he added.

The NAVYA shuttles are part of a larger fleet that has been operating at Masdar City since October 2018. ION announced a partnership with NAVYA, a leading company in autonomous driving systems, in January this year, to develop the concept of shared autonomous transport to the MENA region for the first time.

“The University City in Sharjah was selected as a site for the pilot trial because it is a leading education and research and development hub in the Middle East,” noted HE Khalid bin Butti Al Hajri, Director General of the University City of Sharjah. “The autonomous shuttles pilot trial with ION enables us to enrich our students' experience, exploring the possibility of advanced means of mobility solutions within the University City, and contributing to the preservation of the environment. We would like to thank ION, the sustainable transportation company under the Bee'ah Group, which pioneers sustainability in the Middle East, and Sharjah Police for their contribution to this successful pilot trial.”

The Sharjah University City trials are the latest in a series of initiatives by ION to further the sustainability agenda for regional transport. In September, the entity announced a partnership with Sharjah Roads & Transport Authority (Sharjah RTA), which coincided with World Electric Vehicle Day, to launch a new on-demand ride-hailing service in Sharjah, with a fleet of electric vehicles. The service will be available for the emirate of Sharjah by the end of 2020 and will expand to the rest of the UAE thereafter.


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