The fully autonomous vehicles will provide visitors with a quick and easy link to AlUla’s Old Town
The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) has launched a new, fully autonomous pod vehicle service as part of its Journey Through Time (JTT) initiative to develop a range of accessible and environmentally friendly public transport options.
The electric pod operates from 4pm to midnight each day and can carry up to 22 people (eight seated and 14 standing), although capacity will be limited to eight during the pilot scheme.
Passengers can ride the pod free of charge along a circular route
As the pilot scheme continues, the pod service will be expanded to other areas of AlUla, including Dadan, Hegra and AlJadidah later in the year.
During the pilot scheme, RCU and engineers from the pod’s manufacturer, ZF 2Getthere will monitor energy consumption, connectivity and practicality before rolling out the service across specific sites in AlUla.
Quiet and with no impact on the environment, the smart pod pilot scheme highlights RCU’s commitment to preserving the natural beauty and heritage of AlUla while also providing the local community and visitors with a range of mobility choices, alongside e-scooters, cycle paths and electric public buses.
RCU’s long-term plans include making autonomous pods available to residents and visitors to AlUla with an Uber-style service, with bookings made on a smartphone application. The Commission is also co-developing digital paper touchscreens to be placed in each pod station so that passengers can request pods on demand.
The pod was sourced from public transport company and technology specialists RATP Dev, a subsidiary of the RATP Group, and the first vehicle was made by ZF 2Getthere. An additional vehicle will be made by manufacturer EasyMile.
RCU CEO Amr AlMadani said: “The pod will give visitors and members of the community a viable and attractive alternative to using personal cars and SUVs to travel around the town and, as the service expands and grows, to surrounding areas.
“Connecting AlUla’s people and places, the pod service, which is being offered alongside a variety of alternative transport options, will enhance the area’s appeal to an international audience and both its smart and environmental credentials among residents.
“When fully operational, the network will deliver a convenient, quick, fun and enjoyable mode of transport linking AlUla’s main heritage and urban sites with its existing and expanding infrastructure plans.”
RATP Dev Saudi Arabia CEO Denis Guillois added: “RATP Dev Saudi Arabia is thrilled to be supporting the Royal Commission for AlUla as it puts smart mobility solutions in place for the benefit of all visitors and residents. We are proud to contribute to the long-term preservation and development of AlUla and Hegra, Saudi’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, through the design and operation of this innovative autonomous pod project.”
For more information, visit www.rcu.gov.sa