All posts in “Dubai”

Dubai will roll out self-driving, drone-launching police bots, because of course

Dubai, the self-proclaimed “Future City,” is getting its own unit of autonomous, drone-launching robotic police vehicles, because what’s more future than than Robocops?

The city’s police force will be the first in the world to roll out Singapore startup Otsaw Digital’s O-R3 autonomous robot, according to a report from the Gulf News spotted by The Verge. The self-driving, self-charging electric bots might be small — the Gulf News compared the size of the O-R3 to an electric kiddie car — but they purportedly boast a suite of features that could make them formidable security guards once they start rolling a beat. 

Most notably, Dubai’s O-R3 units will use “biometric detecting software” to identify people who are wanted by the police or observed committing crimes as “undesirables,” alerting human officers so they can take action.     

The AI controlling the bot can detect and dodge obstacles — and when it hits its limits, it can launch a companion drone to follow after an escaping perp. Check out a controlled demo of the system below:

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Director of the Smart Services Department of the Dubai Police, Brigadier Khalid Nasser Al Razooqi, told Gulf News that the feed from the O-R3’s cameras will be linked to an internal command room, where human officers will monitor the footage collected on patrols.

The city’s police force will roll out the new bots soon, with active patrols slated to start before the end of the year at tourist destinations around the city, according to Al Razooqi. 

Dubai’s law enforcement efforts first embraced AI with its adoption of PAL Robotics’ REEM robot, an ineffectual-looking Robocop wannabe that made the rounds at the Dubai Mall during the Gulf Information Security Expo and Conference back in May. That android looks like it’ll serve a more a public-facing civil servant role, while the O-R3 patrols could actually help the police force identify and corral lawbreakers.   

The self-driving patrols join Dubai’s already impressive autonomous aspirations. The city is projected to be the first in the world to launch a pilot-free flying taxi service later this year, too, and Uber’s flying car initiative plans to introduce a working prototype and possibly even passenger flights to Dubai airspace by 2020. 

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Dubai’s self-flying taxis are primed for takeoff later this year

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The “Future City” is about to add another space-age service you won’t find anywhere else in the world: autonomous passenger drones. 

Dubai’s much-hyped autonomous aerial taxi (AAT) service, which made waves back in February when it was announced as part of its World Government Summit, is finally, officially on track. The city’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) just announced a new testing schedule for the program and signed a new a new deal with German aviation company Volocopter, which will provide the aircraft for the program.

The autonomous drone taxis will fly passengers on predetermined routes throughout the city, serving as more of a sky shuttle service than a true go-anywhere taxi. The test period will start sometime during the fourth quarter of this year, and the RTA expects to continue on a trial basis for about five years until the proper legislation is in place for a bigger expansion.

The first version of the air taxi project used the Ehang 184, a 500-pound, single-seat passenger drone. The Dubai RTA didn’t say why it was now switching to Volocopter aircraft but touted the company’s reputation for safety. The craft that will be used in the trials, the Volocopter 2X, is a two-seater, which could give it the edge over the smaller single-passenger Ehang.  

The crafts are fully electric, with 18 rotors and nine independent battery systems that can pick up the slack to keep the craft in the air if anything fails mid-flight. Volocopter claims the quick-charge battery can be fully juiced in as little as 40 minutes for a max flight time of about 30 minutes. That’s at the standard cruising speed of 50 km/h (around 30 mph) and a top speed of 100 km/h (about 62 mph).

A rendering of one of the autonomous air taxis in flight.

A rendering of one of the autonomous air taxis in flight.

Image: volocopter

The project was originally slated to begin next month, but the RTA pushed the trial period to the fourth quarter of the year to make sure the system is truly ready before the crafts take to the air. The RTA said it’s working closely with the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority to iron out legislative and operational guidelines, along with more exact standards for potential taxi service operators to have all the pieces in place before the “commercial and official operation” of the AATs.

This is just the start for flying taxis, with companies like Airbus rolling out their own projects — but Dubai is ahead of the curve. The city is lined up as one of the first two targets for Uber’s flying car initiative, with plans to have a working prototype and possibly even passenger flights as part of Dubai’s Expo 2020 event. 

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Real-life Robocop to patrol with a police department

A robot cop isn’t the future — it’s now.

Dubai police added a robotic officer to its force, and plans to add more over the next few years. (Don’t worry, it doesn’t have a gun.) 

 It even knows how to salute. 

The city plans on recruiting a lot of the bots so they eventually make up 25 percent of the force by 2030.

The police department’s one robot already patrolled the Gulf Information Security Expo and Conference in the United Arab Emirates this week.

Next up is patrolling the massive Dubai Mall, which posted that the robot loves selfies and will be around all week.

The robot, first launched in 2011, is from Spanish company PAL Robotics. The robocop is a REEM, a full-sized humanoid robot that can speak and understand several languages. 

In an interview with CNN, Brigadier Khalid Nasser Alrazooqi, general director of the Smart Services Department of the Dubai police, said, “The robot is going to be an interactive service for the people.”

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While Dubai’s newest officer isn’t quite the 1980s cyborg everyone’s thinking of, the machine will still be able to answer questions, provide information about services on its touchscreen computer, process fines and tickets, and use its camera eyes to send information back to a command center.

Stay out of trouble!

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Richard Branson’s supersonic jets could find a landing spot in Dubai

Dubai boldly brands itself as “The Future City,” with space age architecture, next-level tech hubs, and paradigm-shifting transportation systems — so it’s only fitting that the resurgence of supersonic travel could find a home amid all the other next-gen innovations here.

The leaders of Boom, the supersonic jet startup backed by Richard Branson, gave a pitch presentation to the Dubai Future Foundation earlier this week, according to the UAE publication The National.

Boom’s founder and CEO Blake Scholl outlined the company’s plans for the audience, which included the potential for flights from Dubai to London in under five hours at the same cost of a first-class seat on any other airline by 2023.  

Scholl was invited to give his pitch by the Dubai Future Accelerators, an initiative within the larger Dubai Future Foundation that promotes government sponsorship of future-forward projects. The group had a hand in similar new-age transportation deals that brought Tesla and Hyperloop One to the city.  

Boom aims to modernize the 50-year-old supersonic systems originated by the now-defunct Concorde, promising 55-seat jets that fly at Mach 2.2 speeds (1,451 mph). Concorde’s service never really took off because of its outlandish cost — seats could be as expensive as $20,000 a pop — but Boom aims for a more “accessible” $5,000 price.

The startup received its first major round of funding back in March, and has reportedly secured reservations for 25 of the $200 million jets from Branson’s Virgin Airlines and other unnamed buyers. The first prototype of the craft, dubbed “Baby Boom,” is expected to be ready for flight next year. 

Scholl reportedly wouldn’t confirm or deny questions about plans with Middle Eastern airlines, like Emirates or Qatar Airways, but said he’s “open to meetings with all interested parties.”

If Boom does wind up serving Dubai, it would be just the latest aviation innovation to stake out part of the city’s airspace. Earlier this year, the city’s Roads & Transportation Agency revealed plans for an air taxi service to be in place by this summer, and the city is one of two localities where Uber will partner as part of its Elevate project for flying cars.

WATCH: An all-electric flying car just made its first flight and it’s as cool as it sounds

Apple shares photos and video of its fancy new store in Dubai

On Thursday, Apple officially opened its brand new retail store in Dubai’s Dubai Mall. 

While plenty of photos of the unopened store surfaced on social media, Apple has now shared some official photos, and a video, from the grand opening. 

Unsurprisingly, the location is beautiful and the store features a number of interesting technical solutions, including the 37.5-foot-high motorized “solar wings,” which cool the store when the sun is hot and open up in the evening when the air is cooler. You can see the carbon fiber wings in their open state in the (apparently drone-filmed) video below. 

Apple’s Dubai Mall store is the company’s third store in the United Arab Emirates, and the second one in Dubai, the other store being located at the Mall of the Emirates. Check out a couple of more photos of the store and its surroundings, below.

Image: Apple

Image: Apple

Image: Apple

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