Italy-based company Next Future Transportation and UAE car-hailing service Careem will team up to deliver self-driving electronic pods to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The battery-charged pods are part of the initiative taken by UAE Prime Minister and Dubai’s ruler Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum to have 25% of transportation in the emirate driverless by 2030.
The car-hailing company said that the pods are more environmentally friendly and safer, AlBawaba news reported.
According to Next, the rider will select a pickup and a drop-off location through a mobile app. Just like the car-hailing service, the pod informs the rider with the expected waiting time. The rider gets onto the pod and is asked to take a seat in a specific location. Similar to a train, each pod can take more than one rider and offers services such as toilets, bars and restaurants. Several pods can attach to each other and allow passengers to move within the different electronic modules. Payments are done electronically via the Careem app – Uber’s biggest competitor in the MENA region.
“When modules are coupled, the passengers are redistributed to optimize occupancy rate, cutting energy consumption and traffic footprint,” Next says. “Dynamic modularity guarantees the ubiquity and flexibility of a personal car, while being traffic efficient more than a citybus.”
“Next is truly excited about our new relationship with Careem,” Founder and CEO of Next Emmanuele Spera said, according to several news outlets. “Careem is a perfect partner from our perspective given their vision, credibility and success in transforming transportation across the MENA region.”
Earlier this month, Careem announced that it will invest $100m in research and development for the coming five years.