RCU Launches Autonomous Pod Vehicle

Residents and visitors to Al-Ula can now experience the future of sustainable, zero-emission mobility on their doorstep with the launch of a new, fully autonomous pod vehicle service. 

The innovative pilot scheme provides passengers with a quick and easy link to AlUla’s Old Town from the south car park. The service is part of the Royal Commission for AlUla’s (RCU) comprehensive Journey Through Time (JTT) master plan to develop a range of fully integrated, accessible, and environmentally friendly public transport options. 

Serving the local community, business travelers to AlUla as well as visitors exploring the area’s stunning natural scenery and attending AlUla Moments, which includes Winter at Tantora, AlUla Arts, AlUla Skies, and AlUla Wellness Festival, the smart pod operates from 4 pm to midnight each day. Electric powered, the pod can carry up to 22 people (8 seated and 14 standing) although capacity will be limited to eight during the pilot scheme. 

AlUla, KSA
Felipe Pires via Unsplash

Passengers can ride the pod free of charge along a circular route. Each leg takes just three minutes to cover 1km. As the pilot continues, the pod service will be expanded to other areas of AlUla including Dadan, Hegra, and AlJadidah later in the year. 

Safe, environmentally friendly, and comfortable, the autonomous pod offers residents and visitors a glimpse of how RCU’s long-term development of convenient and sustainable mobility will enhance their daily lives and shape the future of transport and AlUla itself. 

Passengers seated or standing onboard can enjoy the journey while an informative instructional video is played. Utilizing the latest in electric vehicle battery technology, the pod can be fully charged in just 15 minutes, giving enough power to travel 50km. 

RCU Autonomous Pods
Image Source: RCU

Smart sustainability is a key component of the JTT master plan, which is being strategically implemented by RCU over several phases up until 2035 to redevelop AlUla into a global destination for heritage, culture, and nature as well as innovation, business, and tourism. 

The pilot allows RCU and engineers from the pod’s manufacturer, ZF 2Getthere, to carefully monitor energy consumption, connectivity and practicality before rolling out the autonomous service across specially chosen sites in AlUla. The position, progress, and performance of the pod are monitored by teams based at RCU’s Smart County Control Platform, while cameras can be added to enhance passenger safety and capacity planning.  

RCU worked closely with esteemed public transport company and technology specialists RATP Dev, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the RATP Group, to source the pod. With more than 120 years of experience, the French company has proven to be an ideal partner with the expertise needed to match RCU’s ambitions. The first pod has been provided by ZF 2Getthere and another will be made available from manufacturer EasyMile.

Press Release: RCU

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