Oman’s bus operator Mwasalat studying autonomous buses
In line with a long-term vision to innovate and keep abreast of modern technologies and transport trends, Mwasalat — the Sultanate’s national bus operator — is exploring the possible deployment of autonomous vehicles (also known as driverless buses) in the delivery of public transport services in the future.
According to Ahmed al Bulushi, CEO, a driverless bus could be tested on the Sultanate’s roads within the next five years, if all goes according to plan.
“As part of our focus on green solutions, we are looking at autonomous vehicles,” Al Bulushi said. But we need to see what the challenges are (for Oman). These technologies require modifications of the existing infrastructure to accommodate these types of services, or may require changes to regulations,” he told journalists on the sidelines of the IRU World Congress on Thursday.
A number of countries in Europe, besides China, are already exploring the use of autonomous vehicles, which are seen as providing sustainable means of transportation, said Al Bulushi, noting however that no country has yet fully implemented driverless transport as part of their service offering.
Asked for a timeline for the implementation, if ever, of autonomous buses on public roads in Oman, the CEO stated: “For us here, we are studying (the issue) and we may get a vehicle in the next five years to test it and see how it works in Oman. But as a full solution, there is no projection for that.”
As for the possible adoption of electric buses by the operator, Al Bulushi added: “Electric vehicles may involve some challenges, because of the need for the modification of infrastructure, battery charging, and other things that we may have to do. Moreover, the types of electric buses required for this region will be different because we need heavy power for air-conditioning. Therefore, it may not be easy to get electric buses and (deploy) them. It will require massive investment, and although they may be environment friendly, manufacturers are continuing to make improvements in technology.”
INNOVATIONDRIVEN: A driverless bus could be tested on the Sultanate’s roads within the next five years, says CEO of Mwasalat
(Picture for illustration only)