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Dubai: Artificial Intelligence can help accidents disappear from roads, saving thousands of lives every year, a Dubai Police official speaking at Gulf Traffic Conference said on Tuesday.

Predicting a level four automation of vehicles by 2040, Captain Dr Eisa Basaeed, Head Technical Studies Section, Dubai Police, said that in the next 20 years almost 90 per cent of vehicles will be fully autonomous, altering positively the traffic safety landscape.

“Road accident is a major concern not only to the UAE, but also in the entire world. Every year 1.2 million lives are lost on roads, which is close to the population of Mauritius, in addition to around 50 million injuries. It is the ninth biggest cause of death worldwide. But moving ahead we expect to see autonomous vehicles dominating the streets, which means most accidents will disappear,” said Basaeed.

He added that the roads in the next couple of decades will look completely different.

“By 2040 most roads will have vehicles with level four automation, if not level five, which means cars will be driverless in most cases. So without human intervention there won’t be human error. This means accidents due to tailgating, or jumping of the red light or cases of distracted driving and reckless driving will disappear,” he said.

He said that Dubai is prepared for the future as it is adopting the latest technologies, adding that traffic lights will be unnecessary in the future.

“In a fully autonomous scenario there may not be a need of a traffic light because vehicles will communicate with each other and coordinate on who goes first. Autonomous vehicles are designed to follow rules and they communicate faster and are more efficient,” added Basaeed.

Since cars will follow the rules by default they will also stick to the speed limits, which will be dynamic and adapting to road changes and weather conditions.

Another feature is that people will have their hands off the steering wheel and will be free to use their phones — that is, if phones still exist in two decades.

However, he warned that the just like with all technology the real challenge would be to keep the entire system protected from cyber attacks, because if hackers get access to the system then cars could be used as weapons on a large scale.

He also pointed out the dangers of a system failure or vehicle malfunction which could lead to new types of accidents.

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