Oman’s bus op­er­a­tor Mwasalat study­ing au­ton­o­mous buses

Oman Daily Observer - - BUSINESS - CON­RAD PRABHU MUS­CAT, NOV 10

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)

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