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Communications of the ACM

Arab World special section: Hot topics

Autonomous Driving in the Face of Unconventional Odds

autonomous vehicle in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi

Credit: Anna Ostanina / Shutterstock

Traffic accidents are a major unsolved problem worldwide. Yearly, it causes around 1.35 million deaths and 10 million people sustain nonfatal injuries9 in addition to having substantial negative economic and social effects. With approximately 90% of accidents being due to human errors, autonomous driving (AD) will play a vital role in saving human lives and substantial property damage. Moreover, it promises far greater mobility, energy saving, and less air pollution.

Despite the recent advances to achieve such promising vision, enabling autonomous vehicles in complex environments is still decades away.6 The problem turned out to be more difficult than expected and it is even harder in the extremely complex and challenging driving environments in many regions around the world, including most of the Arab region. In the coming subsections, we discuss the challenges facing the successful implementation of AD in the Arab region and map them to the four pillars of the Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index.7 Finding solutions to those challenges will help deliver the benefits of AD to world regions that are in desperate need for it, as more than 90% of traffic deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries with Africa having the highest death rates.9 In addition, it is very beneficial to the automotive industry as 24% of the global automotive market sales are outside Europe, China, U.S., India, and Japan.5


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