As part of a calculated step that will strengthen the regional economy and generate thousands of jobs, Abu Dhabi has established a special zone in Masdar City for intelligent and autonomous vehicles.
To accelerate the development of driverless fleets for use on land, sea, and in the air, the Smart and Autonomous Vehicle Industries (SAVI) cluster, which was unveiled in October in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, will draw businesses from all over the world.
The zone would house production facilities, hangars, test areas, research and development (R&D) labs, testing and certification facilities, and sizable workshops, according to a statement.
According to the announcement, several foreign businesses have already disclosed plans to launch operations in Abu Dhabi, each offering their experience in applications for the air, land, and water.
According to projections, the SAVI project will boost the economy of the nation by up to AED120 billion (USD 32.67 billion) and generate up to 50,000 new jobs.
According to Jasim Al Zaabi, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED), “SAVI is a game changer as a catalyst for Abu Dhabi’s diversification. It will unleash exceptional economic growth and provide new opportunities for talent, entrepreneurs, and investors.”
The new zone will also hasten the uptake of green mobility services and move the nation and the world at large closer to a future with no emissions.
Grand View Research projects that by 2030, there will be a need for more than 3.1 million autonomous vehicles and that the industry will grow at a CAGR of 53.6% between 2022 and 2030.
According to McKinsey & Company, autonomous driving has the potential to generate USD 300 billion to USD 400 billion in revenues for the auto sector alone by 2035.
Meanwhile, the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) and US-based Archer Aviation have entered into an agreement with plans to commence air taxi operations in the UAE Capital and across the country in 2026.
Abu Dhabi will be the first international launch partner for Archer, a leader in electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. As per the reports, ADIO will support Archer with incentives for establishing its first international headquarters and manufacturing facilities in the Smart and Autonomous Vehicle Industry (Savi) Cluster in Abu Dhabi.
Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, Director General of the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), told the Khaleej Times about the federal body completing its inspection of the Archer’s eVTOL aircraft, before giving the approval for the deal.
“The GCAA recently visited Archer Aviation’s global headquarters in California to inspect its Midnight aircraft and learn about their certification progress with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Our goal is to approve Archer’s air taxi to fly in the UAE as soon as it is certified by the FAA, and we are very excited to collaborate with them to bring electric air taxis to the country,” the official remarked further.
Badr Al-Olama, Acting Director General of the Abu Dhabi Investment Office, commented, “We are thrilled to work with Archer to host their first international operations in Abu Dhabi. Bringing electric aviation to the UAE will help unlock congestion with zero emissions and, in turn, bring millions in foreign direct investment and thousands of jobs to the region over the next decade.”
Archer is aiming to transform urban travel by replacing 60 to 90-minute commutes by car with an estimated 10 to 20-minute environment-friendly electric air taxi flights. The venture, which has raised over USD 1.1 billion of funding till October 2023, is expected to showcase its Midnight aircraft to the UAE for the first time at the Dubai Airshow, as well as the Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels (CAAF) hosted by the GCAA in November.
Archer’s Midnight is a four-passenger aircraft designed to perform rapid back-to-back flights with minimal charge time between flights. The company is also working with numerous industry partners across the UAE to support its plans to commercialise eVTOL operations in the region by 2026.
Archer signed MoUs with Falcon Aviation, which will operate its air taxis across Dubai and Abu Dhabi, as well as GAL-AMMROC, which will provide MRO support for Archer’s eVTOL aircraft.