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HOW FAR AWAY ARE WE FROM A FUTURE WITH DRIVERLESS CARS AND COMPLETE ROAD AUTONOMY?

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Driving, pfft, a thing of the past.

Remember ‘Back to the Future 2’, when Marty and Doc tore through the space-time continuum to head into the future and it’s filled with cool gadgets and flying cars? Well, we’re not saying that this is near but we’re saying you may not have to drive your own cars anymore, and no, we’re not talking about chauffeurs.

There have been a few examples of autonomous cars, namely Tesla’s, and unlike most technology, the hype hasn’t really died down. Nadia Qazi, a car enthusiast has been praying to ‘drive’ one ever since she heard about the technology.

Autonomous cars revolve around Artificial Intellgence or AI tech for short. The technology maps out the route the ‘driver’ wants to travel in and, well, the best way to put phrase this is, drive itself.

“If we can send rockets to space, why is it taking so long to make an autonomous car?” adds Nadia.

The 20-year old’s frustration is understandable and not unfounded.

Data and AI

“We’ve been saying that the technology will take about 10 years to develop for about a decade. We’ve made progress but there’s still alot to be done in this space,” said Seham Al Behissy, Former Digital and Connected Cars general manager/ Renault international group of Artificial Intelligence.

Al Behissy also highlights a critical point, which leads to the question – what happens to all the data?

“I would say that now the question revolves around safety, not only on the roads but also data quality assurance. We have to be able to interpret real time and accurate data as the car moves across specific areas, and ensure this data is stored. We need to have serious conversations with different key players and manufacturers,” she adds.

Education

Don’t worry we’re not talking about sending you back to school. But according to Al Behissy, drivers need to be educated on the potential hazards they face while operating an automatic car and learn how to navigate through these hurdles.

“It’s not only about a smar car but you have to integrate the mechanical, eletrical and education with it,” said Dr. Jassim Haji, President of International Group of Artificial Intelligence in Bahrain.

We need to enable users to operate these vehicles and need to educate them while changing their mindset from being a driver to a supervisor. They should also possess a set of skills to know how to use the vehicle in certain spaces and emergencies.

How can businesses benefit from this?

If autonomous cars and vehicles can be scaled and mass-produced, businesses might jump on the driverless bandwagon soon.

“We’re talking about everything from autonomous vehicles and drones all the way to applying data science to enhance the customer experience,” said Mohammed Sleeq, Chief Digital Officer at Aramex. Trust Aramex when it comes to logistics; the company has been a solutions leader and innovator in Dubai and operates in over 65 countries with over 16,500 employees.

Alexander Pope said, “To err is human”. But wouldn’t it sting significantly more  if that error cost you thousands in your business? Imagine you kickstarted a company from the root-level and now you need a way to get your products across to the customer. With proper AI backing you could eliminate human error altogether and save cost, which is a pillar of any smart business.

Hmm, Skynet from Terminator is starting to make alot more sense.

So, what now?

“The AI community needs to network more together to make autonomous cities and movement a reality,” said Dr. Haji.

“To build an autonomous car, you need to build it in different stages and challenge it with obstacles and safety courses around it. Furthermore, we cannot make an AI car without having AI security measures,” he adds.

He has a point. Just visualise how you would react if YOUR CAR WAS BEING HACKED!

There seems to be a considerable ways to go but noteworthy process has been made in this space. Question is can we replace our love for driving with being driven around? I’ve been debilitating an answer to this question for hours and it’s driving me crazy. Let us know in the comments what your prefer – driving yourself or your car driving you?

Journalist for 25 years with leading publications in India and UAE such as The National, Mumbai Mirror, DNA, Indian Express and former Sports Editor of eIndia.com. Now managing editor of Headline.ae, part of MEMc (https://www.memc.co)

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UAE fuel prices announced for March 2024

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The Fuel Prices Monitoring Committee has given the green light for an increase in gasoline and diesel prices for March 2024. The approved hike ranges between 15 and 16 fils per liter for gasoline and 17 fils for diesel, compared to February 2024 prices.

Fuel distribution companies have promptly announced the new prices, effective from Friday, March 1, 2024. The updated pricing includes a 5% value-added tax.

Specifically, the price per liter of super gasoline “98” is set to rise by 15 fils, reaching 3.03 dirhams in March, up from 2.88 dirhams in February. Special gasoline “95” will see an increase of 16 fils, from 2.76 dirhams to 2.92 dirhams, while E-Plus 91 gasoline will climb by 16 fils, reaching 2.85 dirhams from 2.69 dirhams. Additionally, the price of diesel will experience a 17 fils per liter hike, escalating from 2.99 dirhams in February to 3.16 dirhams in March.

This decision follows three consecutive monthly reductions in gasoline and diesel prices approved by the committee for January 2024. The reduction ranged between 13 and 14 fils for gasoline and 19 fils for diesel per liter compared to December 2023 prices.

Notably, the Ministry of Energy’s approved fuel price standards are subject to monthly adjustments based on the global average oil price, incorporating distribution companies’ operating costs.

New fuel prices are:

-Super 98 petrol will cost Dh3.03 a litre, compared to Dh2.88 in February.

-Special 95 petrol will cost Dh2.92 per litre, compared to Dh2.76 last month.

-E-Plus 91 petrol will cost Dh2.85 a litre, compared to Dh2.69 a litre in February.

-Diesel will be charged at Dh3.16 a litre compared to Dh2.99 last month.

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Luxury cars showroom opens in Dubai for premium motorists

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A new car showroom dedicated to luxury supercars has opened near the Equiti metro station on the busy Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai.

Set up by the accomplished automobile stalwart Sarabdeep Singh Bassi with his Man Friday Walid Al Balushi, the showroom opening witnessed a range of Lamborghinis, Ferraris, McLarens, Mercedes and Bentleys along with some top options in the Land Rover range as well for a rich sampling of the showroom’s USP. The inauguration ceremony was graced by UAE businessman and SJM Group chairman Sheikh Juma bin Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum as the chief guest.

Bassi is a veteran of Dubai’s automobile circuit with showrooms for used and mid-range cars in three emirates – Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi – since 2004 when he landed from the United States, where too he operated in the similar industry but around trucks and transport for a brief while.

According to Balushi, now is as good time as any to have a cars showroom for the upper echelons of the society. “Our Emirati folks are always a keen, regular market, but we also see a lot of Russians and people from the adjoining regions looking up high-end cars.”

An attendee poses in front of a grey McLaren and red Ferrari at the Oscar Cars showroom in Dubai. Photos Joy Dasgupta / Headline.ae

This showroom is the latest addition to their Advantage Motors brand which deals in mid-range levels of cars in the three emirates.

“Already the response is very good,” Bassi said on the sidelines of the inauguration ceremony amid much fanfare. “We have more expansion plans like opening other automotive businesses after this. Our customers are from all over UAE and from other countries as well like Russia, Middle East countries, China, All Over Africa, and others. We are also promoting electric vehicles sale which are environment friendly.”

The vast showroom on the Sheikh Zayed Road, diagnonally across the Mall of Emirates, is laid out over 7,000 square feet and separate parking, with the best of knowledgeable staff at hand to help buy and sell the cars, along with other services like buying premium number plates, etc.

 

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UAE sees upward surge in fuel prices for September

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The UAE has announced its fuel prices for September, following its usual practice of monthly revisions. The new rates will apply from September 1 and are as follows:

-Super 98 petrol will cost Dh3.42 a litre, compared to Dh3.14 in August.

-Special 95 petrol will cost Dh3.31 per litre, compared to Dh3.02 last month.

-E-Plus 91 petrol will cost Dh3.23 a litre, compared to Dh2.95 a litre in August.

-Diesel will be charged at Dh3.40 a litre compared to Dh2.95 last month.

After a similar rise in July, petrol prices in the country increased during August. Over the past year, prices have displayed fluctuations, yet they remain notably lower than those of the same period last year.

Take a Quick Look: Fuel Prices Throughout the Year

Months/2023Special 95Super 98E-Plus 91
JanuaryDh2.67Dh2.78Dh2.59
FebruaryDh2.93Dh3.05Dh2.86
MarchDh2.97Dh3.09Dh2.90
AprilDh2.90Dh3.01Dh2.82
MayDh3.05Dh3.16Dh2.97
JuneDh2.84Dh2.95Dh2.76
JulyDh2.89Dh3Dh2.81
AugustDh3.02Dh3.14Dh2.95

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