Dubai is aggressively turning itself into a “Future City,” putting self-flying taxis in the skies and a facial recognition system in its airport. The Dubai police department’s latest ride is now adding another sci-fi transportation staple: the hoverbike.
The Dubai police, which already has luxury patrol cars, self-driving pursuit drones, and a robot officer, just announced it will soon have officers buzzing around on hoverbikes, which look like an early version of the speeder bikes used by the scout troopers on Endor in Return of the Jedi.
The force (see what I did there?) unveiled its new Hoversurf Scorpion craft at the Gitex Technology Week conference, according to UAE English language publication Gulf News. The police force will use the hoverbike for emergency response scenarios, giving officers the ability to zoom over congested traffic conditions by taking to the air.
The Russian-made craft is fully electric and can handle loads of up to 600 pounds, offering about 25 minutes of use per charge with a top speed of about 43 mph. The Scorpion can also fly autonomously for almost four miles at a time for other emergencies.
Someday, you could take a flying taxi from Dubai to a Martian city in the middle of the desert right here on Earth. In preparation for its plans to establish a settlement on the red planet, the United Arab Emirates has announced that it’s building a 1.9 million square feet simulated Mars settlement. It will be called Mars Science City and will serve as home to interconnected domes housing various laboratories simulating the planet’s terrain. The team building the structure plans to use advanced 3D printing techniques and heat and radiation insulation to mimic the harsh environment of our neighbor.
Scientists will use those labs to develop technologies that can provide future Martian colonies with food, water and energy. That way, settlers wouldn’t have to spend years eating only potatoes in their new home. In addition to laboratories, the man-made city will house a museum showcasing humanity’s greatest space achievements, which will boast 3D-printed walls made of sand from the country’s desert. There will be areas meant to engage kids and ignite their interest in space, as well. Once the city’s up, the UAE intends to conduct an experiment involving a group of people living within its confines for a year.
According to the Government of Dubai, which is heading the project, it will cost around $140 million to build the artificial city. UAE’s Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said:
“The UAE seeks to establish international efforts to develop technologies that benefit humankind, and that establish the foundation of a better future for more generations to come. We also want to consolidate the passion for leadership in science in the UAE, contributing to improving life on earth and to developing innovative solutions to many of our global challenges.”
The country hasn’t revealed a timeline for the project yet, but we’d sure love to see Matt Damon grace the city’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The two-seater, 18-rotor unmanned vehicle took off for a five-minute flight above a strip of sand on the Gulf coast.
The flight was watched by Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed.
Dubai has big ambitions for becoming a smart city, with drones and robots central to its plans.
The drone was designed by German firm Volocopter and the firm said it hopes to have the taxis up and running within five years.
“Implementation would see you using your smartphone, having an app, and ordering a Volocopter to the next Voloport near you,” said chief executive Florian Reuter.
“The Volocopter would come and autonomously pick you up and take you to your destination.”
The drone had previously been tested in Germany in April.
Rival Chinese firm eHang was supposed to be the first to launch a fleet of flying taxis in the city but its plans appear to have been delayed.
Dubai has positioned itself to become the smartest city in the world with ambitions to have self-driving vehicles account for a quarter of journeys made by 2030.
Noel Sharkey, a computer scientist and robotics expert at Sheffield University, said of the drone plans: “The big challenge will be dynamic obstacle avoidance of other taxis, buildings, birds and delivery drones.
“The skies over Dubai could become uncomfortably crowded very quickly. The ground level of the city could become a dark place of intrigue and mystery like Blade Runner.”
A day before the official opening, Apple invited local press to tour its latest retail store within the Dubai Mall in the United Arab Emirates. Headline features include views of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, and a 180-feet wide motorized window comprising 18 carbon fiber panels.
To mitigate Dubai’s climate, Foster + Parters designed eighteen 37.5-foot-high motorized “Solar Wings” that respond to the ever-changing environmental conditions. When the sun is at its hottest they cool the store, and in the evenings they open to welcome everyone to the public terrace. Inspired by the the traditional Arabic Mashrabiya, each “Solar Wing” is locally fabricated from 340 carbon fiber reinforced polymer rods, and at 180 feet wide, the 18 panels make up one of the world’s largest kinetic art installations.
The store will also provide great views of another Dubai attraction …
Each evening, there is a spectacular evening fountain show directly outside the store, and Apple is inviting visitors to use that 18-foot wide opening window to view the display. Video of the fountain display can be seen below.
Apple’s announcement of the opening also focuses on its rebranded and expanded store workshops, Today at Apple. This initiative was revealed in a CBS interview yesterday.
At the heart of every Apple Store is the drive to educate and inspire. “Today at Apple“ will launch at Apple Dubai Mall and in all 495 Apple stores next month with new sessions across photo and video, music, coding, art and design, and more, led by highly-trained team members. Apple Dubai Mall will also host high-profile events including live music, intimate conversations with film-makers and photographers, and live workshops with some of the world’s top talent. Events on opening day include Live Art with Myneandyours, and Artist Duos with musician Hamdan Al Abri and artist Sultan Al Ramahi.
These will be run by Creative Pros, a new position we first discovered in August of last year.
Dubai’s tourism sector sustained momentum in its strong start to 2017 with the emirate’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, known as Dubai Tourism, reporting a stellar 11 percent increase in overnight visitation in the first three months of the year compared to the same period in 2016. January to March 2017 saw 4.57 million travellers visit the city, reflecting over double the growth achieved in the first quarter of last year.
Among Dubai’s top 20 source markets for inbound tourism, China and Russia continued to top the growth trajectory charts with unparalleled 64 percent and 106 percent increases over Q1 2016, delivering 230,000 and 126,000 tourists respectively. Attributable in a large part to the positive regulatory changes enabling citizens from both countries to obtain free visas-on-arrival in the UAE, this performance spike has resulted in both countries moving up in their rankings as key feeder markets for Dubai, with China at number four and Russia at number 11.
Retaining their stronghold on the top three positions were India, KSA and the UK, accounting collectively for 30 percent of total Q1 visits to Dubai, with India becoming the first ever market to record nearly 580,000 visitors in any one quarter, with a massive 23 percent growth in arrivals between January and March.
Despite its 8 percent drop over 2016, driven due to a backward shift in annual school holidays, KSA continued to drive volumes with 440,000 visitors, while the UK rallied growth with its 5 percent increase to mitigate the declines from KSA and Oman, which rounded off the top 5 with 214,000 overnight guests.
The remainder of the top 10 all saw positive contributions, with Iran up a strong 39 percent, Pakistan up 17 percent, the United States up 6 percent, posting a strong recovery over 2016 performance, Germany maintaining stability, and Kuwait bringing up the GCC contribution with 10 percent growth.
Helal Saeed Almarri, Director-General of Dubai Tourism, said, “Q1 2017 has set us off on a very strong trajectory for the year and we are pleased to see our strategic investments and policy reforms yielding such definitive impact. As Dubai continues to evolve and expand the breadth and depth of its tourism proposition, we expect to amplify the appeal of our city as the top consideration not only for first-time visitors, but also repeat business and leisure travellers. Thanks to the support from our visionary leadership, backed by the strength of our stakeholder collaboration, we have made tremendous strides in ongoing efforts to increase the city’s accessibility, minimise barriers to travel, and make it as seamless as possible for prospective tourists to visit and revisit Dubai. China and Russia’s strong acceleration in response to our initiatives are a clear reflection of the importance of such measures as facilitators of tourism sector growth.”
Almarri went on to say that the positive start to 2017 is an encouraging endorsement of Dubai’s overall strategy, saying, “We are prudently aware that travel is among the leading industries undergoing a global transformation. In order for Dubai to fulfil its commitment to the ’10X Agenda’ set by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, we must be true innovation leaders. Beyond marketing and promoting the city with the endorsement of all our industry partners, our agenda is focused on amplifying advocacy and putting the ‘voice of our travellers’ at the very heart of defining our future growth priorities. We look forward to the continued support of our government, public and private sector partners as we move a step closer towards delivering 20 million visitors per year by 2020, as well as to collectively creating today, for global travel, what the world may aspire to in 10 years’ time.”
Dubai Health Authority’s dental services department will begin using 3D technology to print teeth later this year.
Using this technology, a dentist will scan the teeth using an intra-oral scanner, which will create a digital impression. This image is then sent across to the 3D printing machine through the intranet from DHA dental clinics, which then replicates the image as a 3D model. The 3D image helps accurate planning and precision especially for complicated dental procedures and surgery. Patients will greatly benefit from the use of this technology as it helps in better patient outcomes as well as substantially reducing waiting time and cost of care.
This use of the technology is the beginning of the authority’s ambitious plans to use 3D printing in all fields of healthcare. The government aims to make Dubai and the UAE a global hub for 3D printing technology by the year 2030. Research is already taking place into the mass production of hearing aids, prosthetics and implants.
DHA has become the first in the Middle East to use smart pharmacy for dispensing and prescribing medication. The robot in Rashid Hospital can store up to 35,000 medicines and dispenses 12 prescriptions in less than one minute. The robot dispenses the prescribed medication with a click of a bottom based on a barcode, minimising any human error and greatly reducing waiting time. DHA will soon be using similar robots in all DHA hospitals.
A construction firm based in Dubai has announced plans to build the world’s first 3D-printed skyscraper.
The company, called Cazza, has confirmed that it will be erected in the United Arab Emirates.
It says it will use a new technique called “crane printing” to create the building.
“When we first thought of implementing 3D printing technologies, we were mostly thinking of houses and low-rise buildings,” Cazza CEO Chris Kelsey told Construction Week Online.
“Developers kept asking us if it was possible to build a 3D printed skyscraper. This led us to begin researching how we could adapt the technologies for taller structures.”
Buildings have been 3D-printed before, with the key benefits being low costs and speedy completion.
“Through our technologies, we will be able to build architecturally complex buildings at never-before seen speeds,” added Mr Kelsey. “It is all about economies of scale where the initial high technology costs will reduce as we enter the mass-production phase.”
Cazza is yet to disclose the building’s planned height or any commencement or completion dates, but the Encyclopedia Britannica describes a skyscraper as a building “of unusual height, generally greater than 40 or 50 stories”.
Concrete and steel will be two of the materials printed by the company’s cranes.
“The crane printing system can be easily adopted with existing cranes which means we don’t have to build cranes from scratch,” said Fernando De Los Rios, Cazza’s chief operating officer.
“We are adding new features to make it adaptable to high wind speeds along with the use of our layer smoothing system that creates completely flat surfaces. You won’t know it’s 3D printed.”
Plans for the world’s first rotating skyscraper, meanwhile, were detailed in February.
Set to be built in Dubai by 2020, it will stand at 1,375 feet tall, with each of its 80 storeys capable of rotating individually around a concrete core.
Over the past few decades, oil and gas revenue has helped the United Arab Emirates develop at a breakneck pace. Its glistening megacity Dubai is now home to the world’s tallest building and countless other accolades, while just last year there were new plans announced to build a completely new “city of happiness.”
The UAE’s latest venture may set new heights in terms of ambition, however. On Tuesday, at the sidelines of the World Government Summit in Dubai, the UAE announced that it was planning to build the first city on Mars by 2117. According to CNBC, UAE engineers presented a concept city at the event about the size of Chicago for guests to explore.
In a statement, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and vice president of the UAE, sounded confident about the project. “Human ambitions have no limits, and whoever looks into the scientific breakthroughs in the current century believes that human abilities can realize the most important human dream,” Maktoum said.
And despite the grandiose nature of the idea, the 100-year-plan does emphasize some practical steps. “The Mars 2117 Project is a long-term project,” Maktoum explained in the statement, adding that the first order of business would be making space travel appeal to young Emiratis, with special programs in space sciences being set up at universities in the UAE.
The project will also create an Emirati scientific team, but that would expand to include international scientists. In particular, these teams would be seeking to develop faster transportation to and from the planet, as well as researching what the settlement would look like and how it will be sustainable in terms of food, energy and transportation.
This won’t be the Gulf state’s first foray into space travel. The UAE launched its own space agency in 2014, which launched partnerships with French and British space agencies the next year. It is planning to send an unmanned probe to Mars by 2021, a project that was described as “on track” just last month.
Of course, whether the plan for a city on Mars will actually come to fruition a century from now is hard to predict. However, in a strange way, this might be a good thing. Other recently announced space exploration plans, particularly those focused on Mars, have been criticized for setting too ambitious a time frame given the huge costs of such a mission. By setting such a distant goal, the UAE’s ambitious city becomes a little more realistic.
For the UAE, these attempts to break into space technology may also reveal an anxious attempt to break away from the country’s reliance on oil and gas and related industries, having been hit hard by falling prices recently. Thankfully for them, there’s still plenty of money in sovereign wealth funds to invest in Mars.