Latest tests place shared autonomous vehicles a step closer to deployment in Dubai

2getthere have developed a prototype of a Group Rapid Transit (GRT) autonomous vehicle that has just passed its first operational test in simulated desert climate conditions.

Autonomous vehicle tests

2getthere, who are based in Utrecht and develop and implement sustainable autonomous passenger transit systems, received an order this year from the UAE for 25 vehicles to be rolled out from 2020. The extreme climate conditions that are common in Dubai have necessitated a series of strenuous tests on the vehicles to ensure their suitability for the conditions in which they’ll be used.

Keeping its cool

This latest test entailed being subjected to various weather conditions, including ‘hot dry’ and ‘hot humid’ and focused on the performance of their air conditioning system at maximum passenger capacity (24 people).

The test results show that the battery-powered vehicles are able to maintain an indoor temperature of 23˚C even in the worst-case scenario (52˚C outside temperature and 3% humidity), a result that meets the requirements to enable the fully autonomous shuttle service to and from Bluewaters Island in Dubai.

The passengers were simulated by placing a 3000-Watt heat source inside the vehicle. A vital part of the test focused on performance during transition: the speed at which indoor conditions are brought back to the most comfortable level for passengers after the doors close and the vehicle starts its journey. The most extreme situation tested was based on the vehicle standing still with the doors opened for six minutes. Real circumstances will entail much shorter stops to allow 24 passengers to enter the vehicle and find their places. Moreover, these stops will normally happen at an air-conditioned station environment.

Exceeds expectations

The air conditioning system for the new generation GRT was developed in close collaboration with suppliers DC Airco and NLR (Netherlands Aerospace Centre). NLR has used the simulation of heat management in relation to airflow within the vehicle in its design of the air conditioning system. The results of the climatic chamber test exceed all expectations based on 2getthere’s specifications. The development of the air conditioning system was partly financed with an MIT research grant from Utrecht province in which DC Airco and 2getthere have participated together.