The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) can be at the forefront of the global movement toward the fully autonomous vehicle and Mobility as a Service (MaaS), transport and automotive industry experts have said.

Jacob Bangsgaard, Director General for FIA Region 1, Belgium, said existing infrastructure and services in Gulf countries means regional governments can implement MaaS as a transport option, thereby reducing traffic congestion, and increasing road safety.

MaaS is the integration of various forms of transport – such as public or demand-based transport, and shared vehicles – into a single mobility service, accessible on-demand, and offering users the choice to access all possible travel options via a single service subscription.

Bangsgaard said the user-centric concept is like single mobility contract, much like a mobile phone’s payment plan, that covers access to and payment for all mobility needs.

“Without needing to plan anything in advance, you open an app on your smartphone at any time and get the best solution for getting from A to B, door to door,” said Bangsgaard, a speaker at the 2nd International Conference on Future Mobility, which opens tomorrow (14 November) at the Grand Hyatt Dubai.

“Many GCC members, like the UAE, for instance have modern and well-functioning public transport infrastructures and services. It is easily conceivable to connect all public transport together with car services like taxis, ride hailing and car-sharing into a single App.”

Bangsgaard is among more than 30 speakers sharing insights into smart, clean, and connected mobility at the 2nd International Conference on Future Mobility, hosted by the Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA), and organised by Messe Frankfurt Middle East.

“MaaS gives us the possibility to increase the efficiency of transport services,” he added. “Many places around the world suffer from heavily congested traffic and see MaaS as a solution to better utilise the available modes and the capacity of the existing infrastructure.”

Henry Bzeih, Managing Director for KIA Connected at KIA Motors USA, is another speaker at the two-day summit, which also features an exhibition of cars using the latest in smart eco-friendly technology from the world’s heavyweight manufacturers such as Toyota, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Volkswagen.

Bzeih will speak about the fully autonomous vehicle, which he thinks holds the key to the future: “I firmly believe that the road to autonomy is inevitable, and we shall see medium to high levels of automation on the roads of the US, EU, GCC and China by 2020,” said Bzeih.

“Safety is the number one driver for embracing and applying autonomous vehicle technology. As a side benefit a connected vehicle can add conveniences to our driving life via mobility and other services.

“The GCC has a very credible civic and telecom infrastructure and has shown a commitment to embrace technology to improve mobility as shown especially in the government sector. Furthermore, the region’s young population coupled with the presence of a multitude cultures makes it ripe to provide services at a standard that matches the global best,” he added.

Held under the patronage of H.E. Dr. Rashid Ahmed Bin-Fahad, the UAE Minister of State and Chairman of ESMA, the 2nd International Conference on Future Mobility arrives as a series of declarations from authorities promote sustainable, eco-friendly and autonomous technologies on UAE roads.

In April 2016, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, announced that 25 per cent of all public transport systems in the emirate will be autonomous by 2030, adding further weight behind the big push toward a smarter, greener, and more mobile future.

Speaking ahead of the conference, H.E. Abdulla Abdulqader Al Maeeni, Director General of the Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA) said: “In the UAE, the objective of the government has always been to ensure sustainable development while preserving the environment, and to achieve a perfect balance between economic and social development.”

“It is clear that the future model of transportation requires a cooperative approach to ensure sustainable, affordable, accessible, safe and clean mobility – and it is therefore important to bring various stakeholders including the government, manufacturers, distributors and other relevant parties together for a concerted discussion“, he added.

Ahmed Pauwels, CEO of Messe Frankfurt Middle East, added: “The 2nd International Conference on Future Mobility is a unique opportunity for all stakeholders to meet in a part of the world which is embracing innovation.

“More than 250 delegates from 25 countries representing 150 organisations are expected to attend, where legislation and government regulations surrounding future mobility solutions will share the spotlight with case studies of leadership in green mobility and the fully autonomous vehicle.”

The annual summit also welcomes the involvement of key international and regional Government Authorities, Regulators and Associations, including the UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE) as Strategic Partners; the UK Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles; the European Commission; the International Road Transport Union; and the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association.

More information is available at: www.mobility-future.com.