The electric minibuses can fully operate without a driver.
Qatar could be one of the first countries to have fully autonomous electric minibuses
transporting the community safely without a driver— a significant step towards innovation and sustainability
Transport Minister Jassim Seif Ahmed al-Sulaiti attended a test operation conducted by Mowasalat (Karwa) in co-operation with Yutong, a Chinese manufacturer of commercial vehicles.
The months-long test aims to evaluate the sustainable and high-tech electric minibuses, which can run autonomously without a need for a driver.
The buses are equipped with advanced technology to ensure full safety, including several radars, lidars, and advanced cameras that allow the vehicle to recognise all surroundings and react accordingly when motion.
This allows the bus to navigate the road safely, providing a high degree of visibility at up to 250m of range. Although a driver is not needed, one can be present as a backup to handle emergencies.
Dubbed as the current, most-advanced, the technology helps enhance safety on roads while incorporating sustainability for a better and greener future.
Each minibus has a capacity for eight passengers and can travel up to 40km per hour. Its battery can last up to 100km per single full battery and takes roughly an hour and a half to reach full charge.
If test operations are successful, Qatar could be one of the first countries globally to deploy such a transit system, authorities said.
“The strategy backs the country’s agenda for a green future by contributing to striking an economic-environmental balance in a way that ensures the sustainability of transportation sector’s infrastructure projects,” the ministry said in a statement.
This can also help modernise the modes of “transportation through deploying alternative, clean energy in step with latest universal eco-friendly systems to reduce harmful carbon emissions and, therefore, create a clean, healthy and safe environment for generations to come,” the statement added.
The minister has also visited Karwa and was briefed on the company’s operational plan for the upcoming FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021, which is set to kick off on 30 November.
The first batch of electric buses will be deployed for the tournament to serve fans attending the event.
This comes in line with the country’s plan to provide safe, reliable, and accessible transportation facilities during the FIFA World Cup 2022, with electric buses set to be used as the main mode of service during the tournament.
Over the past few years, authorities in Qatar have been working towards transforming public transportation to full-electric, including public bus services, government school buses, and Doha Metro’s buses.
This aims to reduce harmful carbon emissions caused by conventional buses in less than a decade from now, in addition to achieving efforts to maintain environmental sustainability.
A year from now, almost 25% of the public transit bus fleet in Qatar are expected to become electric, while by 2030, most of the buses and public transportation will gradually become electric.
An integrated network of electric car chargers are also being integrated across the country in order to support the ministry’s plan to gradually transform the electric transport system.