DUBAI: H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Chairman of Dubai Executive Council and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Dubai Future Foundation, witnessed the signing of three partnership agreements by Dubai Future Labs (DFL), an initiative of Dubai Future Foundation (DFF), with Emirates Airline, DP World, and dnata.
The trio of agreements aim to deploy advanced future technologies across aviation and logistics – two vital non-oil sectors for Dubai and the UAE.
These national partnerships aim to activate the Dubai Robotics and Automation Programme that was launched last September to boost the development, testing and adoption of robotics and automation (R&A) and accelerate its deployment in key economic sectors.
The Programme focuses on advancing research and development (R&D) in five main areas in the sector – Production and Manufacturing; Consumer Services and Tourism; Healthcare and Connected Mobility; and Logistics.
The Programme aims to transform Dubai into one of the top 10 global cities for robotics and automation by adopting and developing robotics technologies, empowering national talent and creating new solutions, products and services to drive the sector’s growth.
The agreements were signed in the presence of Mohammad bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs; Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, and Remote Work Applications and Deputy Managing Director of the Dubai Future Foundation; Sultan bin Sulayem, Chairman and CEO of DP World; Adel Ahmed Al Redha, Chief Operating Officer of Emirates Airline; Steve Allen. Group CEO of dnata Group; and Khalfan Belhoul, CEO of the Dubai Future Foundation.
Omar Sultan Al Olama said: “These three partnerships will contribute to strengthening Dubai and the UAE’s position as a living laboratory for advanced technologies and innovations. These agreements will further advance the leadership’s vision to make our nation a global destination for partnerships, R&D, and innovation that can shape the future.”
He added: "Deploying robotics, automation and future technologies in key sectors enhances economic diversification and raises Dubai’s long-term competitiveness and attractiveness as a platform for launching and growing businesses and enabling international trade with cutting-edge logistical services."
Dubai Future Labs’ Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with DP World includes several phases and projects. The main project to be undertaken as part of the MoU is aimed at developing smart, autonomous electric vehicles (E-CAVs) for terminal operations that can serve as a more sustainable, reliable, efficient and safer alternative.
The MoU also focuses on promoting R&D in built-for-purpose systems and commercialising it to increase the safety and efficiency of DP World’s global operations, in addition to supporting the group’s carbon reduction and sustainability objectives.
Under the MoU, Dubai Future Labs, will facilitate the research, testing and implementation of new technologies for logistics operations, and develop future technologies that incorporate artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, data analysis and blockchain.
The solutions planned to be developed include automated and smart systems for transporting, handling, and storing goods across port operations.
Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP World said: "This MoU is of strategic importance to us and comes at a time when it is critical to enhance supply chain efficiencies. DP World and Dubai Future Foundation will explore the potential for achieving breakthroughs in various fields by integrating with smart government system and spurring development and innovation to transform the UAE into an advanced digital and smart economy. As a leading trade enabler, we are at the forefront of developing and adopting disruptive technologies. Our goal is to cement Dubai’s position as a digitally advanced global trade hub. With our next-generation technologies and solutions including hyperloop and automated warehouse stacking as well as initiatives like Dubai Trade, Cargoes, Searates and Digital Freight Alliance, we are indeed reshaping the future of trade and logistics. Keeping pace with the rapid evolution of technology, we are also exploring the deployment of metaverse solutions across our operations to solve real-world supply chain bottlenecks."
Bin Sulayem added: “Our teams are constantly conducting research and development to digitise manual and traditional methods in our logistics operations. One example is the Electrical Terminal Trucks project that enhances our existing assets by using advanced technologies to reduce supply chain disruptions and ensure efficient flow of trade around the world.”
Under the MoU with Emirates Airline, Dubai Future Labs will facilitate various innovative pilot projects including a robot check-in agent that leverages facial recognition and interacts with passengers as well as a robot waiter serving in airport lounges. The introduction of these unique services will enhance customer satisfaction by making the passenger’s airport experience more seamless.
Emirates is also redoubling efforts to overhaul its warehouse management system by deploying automated solutions. Working with DFL across R&D and R&A projects, Emirates will test and implement initiatives to increase the efficiency of internal processes and advance its sustainability and environmental goals.
The airline will work with DFL to develop autonomous baggage transport and autonomous pallets for cargo warehousing, helping to make operations safer, and more efficient and reliable.
Adel Al Redha, Emirates' Chief Operating Officer, said, "We are delighted to further expand our partnership with the Dubai Future Foundation to deploy innovative robotics solutions, and use advanced technologies and artificial intelligence across our business areas in Emirates Engineering, Dubai International Airport and ramp operations. This will give Emirates the opportunity to gain from DFF’s pool of experts and programmers, who will work with practical use cases and knowledge from the airline to enhance day to day operations, improve efficiency, as well as deliver further seamless experiences to our customers.”
DFF’s Dubai Future Labs will work alongside dnata to research, develop and trial innovations to further improve safety, efficiency and sustainability across the company’s ground handling and cargo operations at Dubai International (DXB) and Dubai World Central (DWC) airports.
According to the MoU signed between the two organisations, Dubai Future Labs will support dnata in automating and converting its fleet into electric ground support equipment (GSE) and deploying robots to maximise operational and environmental efficiency. The partnership will also support dnata in achieving its strategic objectives and reducing its carbon footprint by 50 percent by 2030.
Steve Allen, CEO of dnata Group, said: "Our partnership with Dubai Future Foundation will accelerate the deployment of cutting-edge technologies across our operations. It will help us further improve productivity and sustainability, and consistently deliver world-class services for our partners, including Dubai Airports and our airline customers. We will continue our investment and efforts to play our part in the next stage of development of Dubai as a leading global transport and cargo hub.”
Khalfan Belhoul, confirmed that Dubai Future Labs, which was launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, two years ago, provides an advanced open and applied R&D lab for testing technologies, and smart automation solutions for storage, handling, transportation and logistics services, designs for self-driving vehicles powered by zero-emission renewable energy, and other innovations that employ programming, machine learning, the Internet of things, robots, big data management and analysis.
Driven by the vision of becoming the core engine of Dubai’s innovation ecosystem, Dubai Future Labs runs state-of-the-art robotics and AI applied research projects that have the potential to have a global impact and raise Dubai’s future readiness. Through its scientists, engineers and industry experts, Dubai Future Labs acts a consultant to the government, advising on technological challenges that various sectors could face in the future.