Fully autonomous cars are a few years away from turning into a reality. Until then, we were given the chance to gaze in awe at a prototype Jaguar iPace that has recently hit the roads near Dubai's World Trade Center.
The test-drive took place on Tuesday, marking the opening day of the Roads and Transport Authority's (RTA) Congress for Self-Driving. The event saw the driverless vehicle take the journey along a preprogrammed route with a safety driver at the wheel.
It's now considered one of the first e-cars to officially hit the roads in the emirate.
The prototype driven in Dubai is "equipped with radar cameras on the front and back, another camera for traffic-light recognition and a roof-mounted GPS receiver," The National reported.
While the car is now considered one of a kind, more similar vehicles are set to make their debut in the next few years, according to Allan Howling, autonomous driving engineer with Jaguar Land Rover. However, it remains unconfirmed how long it will take for these electric cars to take over roads in the region.
"How fast that happens depends on legislation and customer acceptance, not just the technology," Howling explained.
Dubai is leading the way with autonomous cars
Current driverless vehicles under test have differing levels of autonomy. Level one autonomous cars "may have driver-assist functions such as cruise control, while level four allows the driver to be doing other things, such as sleeping or reading a book while the car is driving in a designated area, such as a single lane on a motorway."
Once a car hits level five, it means it would basically be driving itself and while we're far from that today, it will become a reality at some point.
In recent years, several self-driving taxis and vehicles were unveiled in Dubai and the emirate is one of the only cities in the region working on making its roads viable for e-cars, even if there's still quite a lot to be done.
According to Jim O'Donoghue - a Jaguar safety driver who was sitting at the back control of the iPace during its test drive - more sensors would've been needed if the vehicle was to drive further around the city.
"We've assessed this route around Zabeel so we can use minimal sensors. It has been challenging to take the technology into an electric car, but we believe this will be the future of driving. Using an engine is easier than an electric motor because automatic braking and accelerating is a smoother process," he explained.
Dubai is steadily working towards an AI-led future
The country's Roads and Transport Authority expects 25 percent of all trips in Dubai to be autonomous by 2030.
Six-seater driverless electric pods were put on display during RTA's two-day conference to reveal how people could be transported around the city in the future.
E-cars aren't the only futuristic project the UAE is focused on. In recent years, the country has become synonymous with advancement and development, especially when it comes to artificial intelligence (AI).