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Even though they only occupy 2% of the Earth’s surface, our cities are responsible for 80% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Faced with this challenge and in order to save our planet, metropolitan areas must today consider their energy transition and undertake everything necessary to use more renewable energy sources while limiting their carbon footprint. Some particularly advanced « smart cities » have gone beyond simple awareness of the problem and are already acting to create a reproducible model throughout the world. This is the case in Masdar, a city in Abu Dhabi that has become a true laboratory of the future.  

In this region of the United Arab Emirates, positive energy buildings are being designed, while alternatives to produce the least possible waste and plans to combat climate change are being implemented. The local population can now also count on a new mode of autonomous and environmentally friendly transport, the AUTONOM SHUTTLE. In fact, this smart city is developing with the arrival of an intelligent shuttle that will enable 4,500 residents to easily reach the city centre from car parks. 

 

A close-up on Masdar, a smart city that has become a model of its kind 

The commitment of an oil importer to developing a greener model 

Although Masdar clearly displays its desire to present itself as a zero carbon and zero waste city, the project is even more ambitious. More specifically, this OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) nation is seeking alternatives to this form of energy with the intention of promoting a model that is applicable everywhere else, in order to reduce the carbon imprint of each territory

Symbolically, the strong commitment by a country like Abu Dhabi – which possesses billions of barrels of oil reserves – shows that its leaders are also open to new models for growth. In the margin of this oil-based economy, they intend to create value with these intelligent cities that have no impact on the planet and which also make administrative services more efficient, simplify everyday life and promote « greener » economic development.   

A multi-disciplinary approach to smart cities 

Masdar’s ambitious objectives for development cannot be reduced to the production of renewable energy and zero waste alone. More generally, it is a question of finding solutions to optimise resources, implementing the notion of collaborative citizenship, facilitating a form of digital governance that respects privacy and deploying a maximum offer of ecological and automatic transport

That is why Masdar Power was established to build and operate renewable energy networks based on solar panelswind energy or concentrated solar power. In parallel, the Masdar Carbon company has initiated various projects to reduce CO2 emissions, and Masdar Capital brings together the most promising participations to develop the energy technologies of the future. Along with other organisations like the Masdar Institute (teaching, research), all these bodies contribute to the balance of the city, which has been designed as an ecosystem based on the optimal circulation of data and intelligent governance. 

 

Autonomous and ecological shuttles: an obvious choice! 

Transport, a major concern in Masdar 

Masdar displays its ambition to develop its concept of a zero carbon city and promotes soft modes of transport

In this context, Masdar City took advantage of Abu Dhabi’s Sustainability Week in January 2018 to organize a worldwide industrial competition to choose a manufacturer of autonomous electric vehicles to equip the city. NAVYA was selected and, after a pilot phase, the first operational use of NAVYA technology in the Middle East was launched.  

 In 2019, 7 AUTONOM SHUTTLES are projected for Masdar’s autonomous shuttle service. These 12-person shuttles will connect car parks with the city centre. Their routes will later be extended, notably to include the Etihad Eco Residence complex and My City Centre Masdar shopping centre, the inauguration of which is planned for 2019. 

 

Intelligent shuttles that are adapted to Masdar’s environment 

Throughout the entire test period, NAVYA provided the necessary modifications to enable the AUTONOM SHUTTLES to operate optimally in Abu Dhabi. For example, because excessive heat can damage batteries, the design was specifically adapted for Masdar’s hot and humid climate. 

According to Youssef Baselaib, executive manager for sustainable real estate development in Masdar, the introduction of NAVYA shuttles in the metropolitan area entirely corresponds to the city’s initial philosophy. It will enable the city to continue to offer the local population optimal comfort, while continuing to propose ecological solutions for transport without increasing the region’s carbon footprint

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