The Robot Taxi and Robot barista make their Dubai debut this week

taxi-bot
The Taxi Bot is designed to operate in large buildings and help people with disabilities move around without additional assistance

So driverless cars are a thing and could be in Dubai by 2020, in time for some gargantuan exhibition that’s got the country all excited. Now a Dubai company wants to launch what it calls the region’s first driverless smart car for the disabled.

Visitors to the AccessAbilities Expo in February will be able to travel in a driverless TaxiBot and disembark for a coffee and a chat at the first Robotic Coffee Shop. Both concepts have been designed for people with disabilities and will be on show at the event, which takes place from February 9-11 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Robot driver

TaxiBot is specially programmed and designed to accommodate up to eight people, including two people with disabilities, says Kollina Hanskehian, Project Manager, Digi Robotics. The Dubai-based company has created solutions for the aviation, education and interiors industries, among others.

“It is the first such car in the region and is designed to operate in large buildings, airports, malls, hospitals, universities, big mosques, parks and places with large space to help people with disabilities move around without any additional assistance,” Hanskehian says. “It is suitable for those having physical disability, or difficulty in walking around and also for people with visual impairment.”

Once instructed to stop, a car seat automatically swivels outwards. Once the passenger is seated, he or she can key in instructions using a GPS-enabled interface in front of the seat. The interface also highlights special attractions or offers nearby.

For now, these cars have only been designed to operate within a building’s perimeter, but future models could see wider use.

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority hopes to implement smart cars for widescale use by Expo 2020, its Director General and Chairman of the Board, Mattar Al Tayer said in November.

Robot barista

Digi Robotics is also displaying its Robotic Coffee Shop at the event. Once a customer is seated, he can place an order for food and drinks on a digital interface next to his seat. A robot will then prepare the drink ordered, bring it to the customer and even wait for feedback.

“The idea of the Robotic Coffee Shop is to ensure high satisfaction levels, particularly in case of customers having disabilities. Once they are inside the coffee shop, they no longer have to worry about explaining their order or queueing up, or even the hygiene. They can simply sit and relax as a robot serves them,” Hanskehian says.

The AccessAbilities Expo is being organised by Reed Expo and Nadd AlShiba PR & Event Management.