How Dubai Future Labs is Changing Logistics From the Heart of the City
Dubai Future Labs (DFL) is an advanced applied research and development (R&D) lab established by Dubai Future Foundation (DFF) with a focus on robotics and artificial intelligence (AI).
Researchers, scientists and engineers within DFL are developing various future technologies, from autonomous vehicles and hospital ventilators to last-mile logistics drones.
Not only are these technological trials feats that contribute to the advancement of vital sectors.
They represent ground-breaking innovations that are transforming the city and redefining how people will live in the future. DFL’s work is central to the mission of DFF to shape the future through foresight and position Dubai as a leading city of the future.
The DFL is an incubator of the ‘Dubai Robotics and Automation Program’ which was launched in September 2022 by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Dubai Future Foundation.
The project aims to make Dubai among the top 10 cities in the adoption and development of robotics and automation technologies and increase this sector's contribution to Dubai’s GDP to 9% in 10 years.
With global supply chains under strain, the DFL is helping to meet challenges in logistics.
The DFL partnered with Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, and Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, as well as other major partners, to develop the first drone delivery service for groceries, with a potential to be scaled up with enhanced and efficiency.
DFL partners with government and private sector to identify technological challenges then design commercially and economically viable solutions, services, and software through robotics and AI.
Autonomy and drones are key focus areas for DFL. Alongside Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, it has established an enablement area for drone operators and technology that facilitates testing and certification.
Collaborating with food delivery aggregators, air cargo operators and healthcare providers, DFL is analysing the whole spectrum of drone technology to harness its potential.
The M061 project
Launched at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, DFL stood in defiance of one of the greatest challenges of the 21st Century, reflecting Dubai’s steadfast commitment to designing a better future in the face of adversity.
As a platform for designing, developing, and testing advanced technologies that put scientific research and data into practice in a real-world setting, DFL contributed to accelerating the deployment of cutting-edge solutions in robotics, AI, and automation at a critical time.
For instance, during the pandemic, the team focused on a project to combat the shortage of ventilators.
The M061 project, overseen by 25 experts, developed ventilators that used readily available components that could be easily sourced, assembled, and deployed. An updated prototype is due to be unveiled later this year when certification is also expected.
Khalifa Al Qama, Director at Dubai Future Labs, explained: “Dubai Future Labs offers a range of opportunities for experts, academics, and innovators. This includes working alongside our technical team on our projects, becoming a fellow, and joining as an intern.
"Each of these opportunities is immensely rewarding and we invite talents from the UAE and abroad to connect with us, to make significant contributions to the technologies and solutions that will shape our future.”
Since its launch, DFL has positioned itself to create solutions to real-life challenges.
Crucially, the lab’s activities are designed to meet the changing needs of individuals and communities. Rather than predefine the direction in which innovation heads, the DFL collaborates with public and private sector partners to develop projects with tangible impact.
Innovative Role Model
DFL’s model, providing technical support and R&D capacities, is unique in the region. The concept has an important place in helping governments and various economic sectors and community segments to evolve and better meet consumer demands.
What’s more, it has a vital role in Dubai’s broader R&D and innovation ecosystem – an ecosystem that is powering development across private and public sectors and contributing to giant leaps in technologies that benefit the global community.
All interested organisations, futurists and entrepreneurs can collaborate with DFL on conducting R&D activities and come up with AI and 4IR-driven solutions.
Individuals can also apply to DFL’s training and fellowship programme, where they become part of the lab’s community and gain valuable hands-on experience. People can also apply to DFL’s internship programme, which supports career development.