Saudi’s Ministry of Transport and Logistics launches trial of first self-driving vehicle

The autonomous vehicle initiative is said to be in line with the ministry’s efforts to facilitate and embrace contemporary transportation systems

Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister of Transport and Logistics, Dr. Rumaih Al-Rumaih, has launched a trial phase of ’Dhahaina’ (Smart), a new autonomous vehicle (AV).

According to a statement, the launch event at the Riyadh Business Front was intended to boost awareness and increase the acceptance of AV technology in society, and is the first step in a longer process that will see the development of AV legislation, regulations, and supporting systems.

The AV initiative is said to be in line with the ministry’s efforts to facilitate and embrace contemporary transportation systems. In a statement during the event, Al-Rumaih highlighted the ministry’s embrace of innovative transportation techniques, and its plans to utilise advanced technologies in the transportation and logistics industry, as per the objectives set in the National Transport and Logistics Strategy.

The strategy aims to provide solutions for smart mobility and anticipate the future development of the market. By launching this trial, the ministry aims to reduce the number of transport-related accidents and fatalities, improve intracity mobility, and minimise the impact of the transportation sector on the environment, the statement noted.

In early July 2021, the CSP Abu Dhabi Terminal and Khalifa Port implemented the region’s first autonomous port truck system.

The inauguration took place at the Riyadh Business Front, owned by the ROSHN Group, which is said to be taking a novel approach to incorporating modern technology into the integrated communities it is building across the Kingdom.

ROSHN said it promotes sustainability by offering pedestrian-friendly streets and eco-friendly modes of transportation for commuting within its communities, while providing connections to a wide range of public and private transportation options that connect its customers to the wider city.

“The ’Dhahaina’ initiative is a significant leap in the technical development of transportation in the Kingdom. This trial aligns with ROSHN’s commitment to humanising the civil experience and adapting technology to serve people within the high-quality real estate environments of our communities  across the Kingdom,” stated Oussama Kabbani, the Group Chief Development Officer at ROSHN Group.

Al-Rumaih added that the trials align with the Ministry of Transport and Logistics Services’ ongoing efforts to establish a national regulatory framework for AVs in collaboration with relevant entities. The primary objective is to unify efforts and establish appropriate regulatory frameworks to enable autonomous vehicles while prioritising user safety, simplifying procedures, and attracting investors, the statement explained.

In mid March 2023, Roshn inked $2.1bn in agreements with construction firms for the development of infrastructure and facilities.

The Ministry of Transport and Logistics is striving to enable various modern technologies in all transport sectors including land, rail, sea, air, and logistics services, through their initiative to embrace new transportation methods. They aim to develop suitable regulatory frameworks for each technology, conduct phased experiments, empower the private sector, attract investors, and enhance the technical capacity of the workforce by partnering with universities and educational institutions, the statement concluded.

In late March 2023, the Big Project ME editorial team announced that the second edition of its Energy & Sustainability Summit will take place on 24 May in Dubai.


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