New automated bus networking system for Dubai project

March 15, 2017

undefinedThe joint venture 2getthere Middle East, between the Dutch automated transport firm 2getthere and the Abu Dhabi-based United Technical Services (UTS), is to deliver a 2.5km-long guided network from the Nakheel Harbour and Tower station over the new ramp on to Bluewaters Island.

The new transport system will have a capacity of 5,000 people per hour per direction. It will feature 25 driverless group rapid transit (GRT) vehicles that are capable of carrying 24 passengers each.

Set to become one of the largest of its kind in the world, the system is considered an example of the future of autonomous transport solutions. The centrepiece at Bluewaters will be Ain Dubai which will be able to carry up to 1,400 passengers in its 48 capsules when completed and provide views of Dubai Marina, Burj Al Arab, Palm Jumeirah and Burj Khalifa.

The awarded automatic transport system fits Dubai’s objective to have 25% of all trips completed by automated systems by 2035. The capacity will initially be 3,350 people per hour per direction, with the possibility to increase to 5,000 people per hour per direction.

The trip time will be approximately 4.5 minutes.

The system developed for Bluewaters is a point-to-point delivery network, but with an option to extend in the future. Vehicles have rapid-charge lithium-ion batteries that recharge at stations.

The GRTs will run on the new bridge link between Bluewaters Island and Sheikh Zayed Road, but will be separated by barriers from regular traffic. The network is due to become operational in late 2018/early 2019.

"It’s taken one and a half years for the whole engineering and design of the prototype. We’re starting to build the series for Dubai as of July, but two prototypes are already almost finished and we will test them in Utrecht," said Carel van Helsdingen, Chief Executive of Utrecht-based 2gettthere.

The driverless vehicles will operate using the same method as the Masdar City pods, with a series of magnets embedded into the road network along the route. Helsdingen said that was a more accurate method of operating than relying either on GPS satellites or laser-guided systems that can be affected by the weather. A magnetic reader under each vehicle measures the position of its vehicle every 50 milliseconds and adjusts its position accordingly.

van Helsdingen has been operating automated people-moving vehicles since 1996, when a system was created to carry passengers from long-stay parking sites at Schiphol Airport to terminal buildings. Before that, he had developed automated guided vehicles for moving containers around a terminal at the Port of Rotterdam.

The personal rapid transport (PRT) system underneath Masdar City was launched in 2010.

2getthere has also been running a GRT system linking Rotterdam’s metro station to a business park in the city for 12 years – a project that was recently renewed and extended.

The company received approximately $4.25 million investment last year from the operator of Singapore’s metro and bus network, SMRT, for a 20% stake while UTS upped its stake in the business to 11%. He said a deal involving SMRT in Asia (although not in Singapore) for a 60-unit system is expected to be signed in September this year.

UTS’s Chief Operating Officer Ziad Al Askari said its Middle East joint venture is "also working out in Qatar and Saudi Arabia" assessing other opportunities.

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