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ION completes successful trial of autonomous shuttles in Sharjah

October 15, 2020
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UAE-based sustainable and smart transportation company ION has conducted a successful pilot trial for its Navya Autonom autonomous shuttles at the University City of Sharjah, one of the largest integrated educational districts in the world.

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, said a statement from ION.

In addition to facilitating carbon-neutral mobility within the educational zone, the University City of Sharjah 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, it stated.

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.

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.

Bee'ah Group CEO and ION Chairman Khaled Al Huraimel said: '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.'

On ION’s vision for smart, sustainable transport, Al Huraimel added: 'We are 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.'

Khalid bin Butti Al Hajri, Director General of the University City of Sharjah said: 'Our campus was selected as a site for the pilot trial because it is a leading education and research and development hub in the Middle East.'

'Our mandate at the University City is to improve the quality of the educational experience, while focusing on creativity and innovation. As part of this quest, it is vital to conduct advanced research and development projects and adopt future technologies that ensure we keep pace with modern trends. This mindset ensures that our educational district competes with prestigious universities globally' he stated.

Navya Autonom shuttles are a globally proven first-and-last-mile transportation solution. The concept fits with Ion’s vision for environmental sustainability and the development of a zero-emissions transportation network in the UAE and wider region.

The Sharjah University City trials are the latest in a series of initiatives by Ion to further the sustainability agenda for regional transport.

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