Drone deliveries might be soaring through Dubai’s skies as early as next year, according to Dubai Municipality (DM) officials. The municipality is actively mapping the emirate’s airspace to strategically plan drone routes and specify landing spots.
“We are working alongside the civil aviation on this project. The 3D zoning and airway construction of the airspace will hasten the incorporation of drones in numerous sectors,” stated Wesam Lootah, CEO of Corporate Support Services Sector at DM.
This endeavor, dubbed the Dubai Horizon System, is the second phase of the Dubai Digital Twin project, aiming to create a precise digital double of Dubai, inclusive of its landmarks, assets, and amenities, represented in both 2D and 3D.
Maitha Al Nuaimi, Director of the Geographic Information Systems Center, highlighted its significance, saying, “Through ground planning, 3D modeling, and the digital twin, we establish fly zones. Once the mapping is done, governmental agencies can then use the service for drone deliveries like parcels, medicines, and food.”
However, the project hasn’t been without its challenges, especially due to Dubai’s rapid urban transformation. “Dubai isn’t static. Buildings emerge one day, cranes the next, and other structures soon after. Integrating all this data into one platform was tough, but we’ve managed to do it,” remarked Maitha. She further added that mapping for Dubai Silicon Oasis is complete and is currently under testing. Soon, other city areas will witness a similar expansion, with residents expecting to see more drones in the skies.
The DM has also employed drones and AI technology for building inspections, detecting violations from various angles. Maitha cited, “Using drones, we can spot issues like cracks in AC units or if a building’s color isn’t up to code. AI aids in these detections.”
Initiated in December of the previous year, the building inspection pilot project has produced efficient results. “We can instantly identify violations,” Maitha stated. “Beyond drones, we’re using panoramic AI imagery to highlight problematic buildings, allowing inspectors to target specific issues rather than conducting random checks.”