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Abu Dhabi confirms anchor deals for SAVI
New deals announced with Joby Aviation, Marakeb, WeRide
#UAE #autonomousvehicles - A number of anchor deals have been announced for the new Smart & Autonomous Vehicle Industry cluster (SAVI) at Masdar City. Autonomous vehicle services pioneer WeRide will establish its Middle East headquarters at SAVI, UAE-based maritime unmanned system company Marakeb Technologies will develop marine technologies, and California-based company developing electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft company Joby Aviation will 'participate' in the new industrial cluster.
SO WHAT? - The announcements of involvement from leading companies developing autonomous systems technologies lend weight to the plans announced for Abu Dhabi's new Smart and Autonomous Vehicle Industry cluster, which envisions hardware and software R&D labs, small workshops, 3D printing and simulation facilities. In addition to these technology partnerships, Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) is leveraging partnerships with Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI), Technology Innovation Institute (TII), Khalifa University and Hub71 to drive research and innovation efforts.
Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) and the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) expect the new Smart & Autonomous Vehicle Industry cluster to create 30,000 to 50,000 jobs and contribute AED 90 billion ($24.5b) to AED 120 billion ($32.67b) to the UAE economy.
A statement from a UAE Cabinet meeting in July revealed that WeRide was the first recipient of a the country's first federal preliminary license to operate self-driving cars. The Chinese technology firm has since stated that it plans to deploy hundreds of autonomous vehicles in the UAE by 2025.
US eVTOL company Joby Aviation was named as an aviation partner in a Dubai plan to launch flying taxi services within three years, announced in February this year. The service would connect Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Sharjah-based Marakeb Technologies launched the first UAE-made unmanned surface vessel (USV) in 2017. The company received a significant investment from the defence-focused Tawazun Economic Council in 2019 The company develops USVs for the UAE Navy.
Abu Dhabi Aviation (ADA), the largest commercial helicopter operator in the Middle East, will establish a state-of-the-art eVTOL MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Operations) facility at SAVI. ADA will also work with Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) to involve local UAE airlines, global electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) OEMs and key international partners.
Emirates Post Group (EPG) and drone services firm SkyGo also announced a new agreement to deploy delivery services between designated locations in Abu Dhabi, suggesting that this too may be linked to SAVI.
Neta Auto, Hozon Auto’s electric vehicle brand will open an R&D centre and assembly plant in SAVI, which will serve as the company's hub for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Net Auto already has R&D centres in Shanghai and Hong Kong. (17-Oct-23)
ADIO revealed that MoUs were signed with California-headquartered autonomous driving company Pony.ai, and UAE-based smart vehicle company NWTN, both of which will trial vehicles at the 'Yas Island testing zone'. No further details were given. (18-Oct-23)
ADIO annouced that Star Charge, an electric vehicle charging and energy storage company, is to establish a regional headquarters at SAVI. (18-Oct-23)
ZOOM OUT - Backed by Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), WeRide's opening of a Middle East operation in Abu Dhabi's Smart and Autonomous Vehicles Industry (SAVI), is the first such announcement from an autonomous vehicles manufacturer. General Motor's Cruise has permanent staff in Dubai working with the Roads and Transport Authority on the launch of driverless taxi services in Dubai. Meanwhile, other autonomous vehicle firms have had a semi-permanent staff presence in the region, but no registered office.
WeRide has already been working with G42's geospatial data and services subsidiary Bayanat and Abu Dhabi's Department of Municipalities and Transport for the past three years on the emirate's Smart Mobility Project. The company already has plans to develop autonomous freight transport solutions, in addition to public transport.
IMO - ADIO"s deal with WeRide is a clear signal that Abu Dhabi is ready to move ahead with its own advanced urban mobility plans. Meanwhile, WeRide's existing partnership with G42 group, combined with access to Abu Dhabi's wider R&D ecosystem, will provide some tangible R&D opportunities to develop its technology and services for wider international expansion.
Updated 18 October 2023
Find out more about this story
Abu Dhabi announces new smart mobility cluster (Middle East AI News)
G42 starts driverless taxi service trials in Abu Dhabi (Middle East AI News)
R&D moves up Abu Dhabi's agenda (Middle East AI News)
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