SMART MOBILITY

Dubai 2020 | MOBILITY | INTERVIEW

RTA is embarking on a drive to enable a strategic decision support system, solve current transportation challenges, and prepare for the future of mobility.

Mattar Al Tayer
BIOGRAPHY

Mattar Al Tayer obtained his bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin in 1983, after which he worked for Dubai Municipality in several professional and supervisory roles, ranging from director of the roads department to deputy director general of Dubai Municipality. He assumed leadership of RTA in 2005. Throughout his professional career, Al Tayer has received multiple accolades in recognition of his successful leadership of RTA. He also assumed several key posts, including deputy chairman of the infrastructure and environment committee of Dubai Executive Council and chairman of the Emirates Society of Engineers.

What challenges do you face in implementing new, futuristic modes of transport, and how do you overcome them?
The main challenges in relation to the self-driving transportation field in particular include addressing public concerns and fears in relation to safety, security, and privacy of the new transport modes and technologies; customizing the rapidly developing transportation trends, technologies, and modes to suite the local conditions of land use and urban planning; understanding the impact of the future trends, technologies, and modes on the urban fabric of cities; funding the new modes and systems and making them available to the public at affordable prices to ensure access to mobility for all segments of society; ensuring smooth and efficient transition of conventional transport industry to future transport industry; and fostering partnerships between the government and private sectors. However, RTA does not look at the development of a smart transport infrastructure and services as a challenge but as an opportunity that can yield significant benefits to our city. RTA is seeking to introduce an array of enablers to be developed in a parallel manner. They include enacting legislations and rules for self-driving transport, enhancing public acceptance of this technology, developing conditions and regulations for testing and licensing of self-driving vehicles, chalking up a structure for insurance and liability, and creating a cybersecurity framework.

What strides has RTA made in developing autonomous transport in Dubai?
In Dubai, we are open to new ideas and technologies and we are not afraid to take educated risks and challenges. Some of the examples are the longest driverless metro system in the world, testing of different driverless modes including autonomous pods and automated flying taxis, and studying the hyper-loop technology. The test run of the first autonomous air taxi capable of carrying two passengers was a success. The move also echoes Dubai's Smart Autonomous Mobility Strategy, which seeks to shift a quarter of the total number of trips in Dubai to autonomous modes by 2030. Another objective is to enhance the integration between mass transit modes and people by providing smooth, fast, and innovative transit modes. The Enterprise Command Control Centre was launched in May 2007 as a central command center of all mass transit systems as well as traffic systems. It acts as a platform that integrates all current and future transit modes under one roof. The control room is linked with 34 high-tech systems within the RTA and can handle the feed of about 11,231 surveillance cameras. It offers state-of-the-art control of roads and transport systems utilizing smart technologies in simulating real-life scenarios. It supports central decision-making in respect of all transit means and assists strategic transport planning as well as integration with RTA's main systems and traffic control centers. In addition, the center copes with future transport challenges such as the use of big data, simulators, AI, and the use of machine learning.

What are the latest updates of RTA's Route 2020 project, and how do you evaluate the impact of Expo 2020?
In preparation for a successful Expo 2020 exhibition, RTA has developed an integrated plan to serve the exhibition. The plan includes integrated solutions to provide smooth and safe mobility of people. The execution of this plan has already started with the extension of the metro's red line. Furthermore, a number of bus stations will be provided specifically to serve Expo 2020. A network of roads and interchanges of around 85km with a total cost of over AED3.2 billion is currently under development to provide flexibility in getting in and out of the exhibition. Other projects include the ITS2020 program to build a new traffic management center and its associated systems as well as the Enterprise Command Control Center (EC3). The total cost of transportation infrastructure and other initiatives and systems provided by RTA to serve the Expo is estimated at around AED18 billion.