If NEXT represents the future of transportation, there is no better place in the world to experience it than the Middle East: In fact, Dubai was the first to announce a plan to innovate their own mobility by 2030, bringing it progressively in line with their other ambitious project to become the most sustainable city on the planet by 2050. The company, the brainchild of Tommaso Gecchelin, is pursuing a multi-stage development and testing plan with Dubai's Road and Transport Authority (RTA) to implement the modular transportation system. Used as a shared, non-stop taxi system, NEXT makes it possible to ease traffic congestion and lower ecological impact, thanks to the ability of its modules to serve individual passengers at the origin of the trip and, by docking with each other along the way, grouping several people heading to the same destination in a single module, thereby undocking the remaining empty modules, thus available for other trips.
Dubai, as an international hub and a leader in the Middle East in the implementation of disruptive innovations, has become central to the development of NEXT ever since Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, in announcing the 2030 master plan, tweeted a picture of NEXT as a vehicle representing his vision of sustainable mobility. From participation and subsequent winning of the Dubai Future Accelerator, to the production of the first prototypes, the step was short: "After presenting them at the World Government Summit, the vehicles were included in the 2030 Master Plan and tested during the recent EXPO," Gecchelin says.
Since 2022, thanks to the network generated during EXPO, the main partnership with Paradigma Management Consultancies LLC, an Emirati company owned by both the Italian innovation center Paradigma Srl - an incubator certified by the Italian Ministry of Business and Made in Italy and a historical partner of NEXT - and XA Group Holding Ltd, a opinion leader in automotive after-sales services in the Middle East, India and Australia, has emerged. XA Group was crucial in the transition to the operational phase in the UAE, providing not only important financial support, but also a production site, business contacts and highly qualified production support staff.
In spite of its exponential growth that has seen it evolve into one of the most vibrant cities on the planet in just a few years, Dubai still has a mobility system that relies mainly on private transportation, resulting in progressive vehicle congestion, especially during peak hours. This is why NEXT is the ideal solution to relieve congestion on the streets, providing a smart solution because it is quickly deployed without the need for a dedicated infrastructure. "Dubai is the perfect city to use NEXT in a taxi-like configuration," Gecchelin explains, "because it is made up of some very dense and crowded points of interest such as the Dubai Mall, Dubai Marina or DXB Airport, spread over a rather large territory dotted with thousands of hotels and private residences. As such, NEXT will allow citizens to summon a vehicle at their location and set their final destination. On the way, the modular vehicle will be able to dock others going to the same place, for example, the Downtown area symbolized by the Burj Khalifa , and once passengers have moved within NEXT's modules headed to the same place, those left free will be able to detach to meet other customers, in a system that allows door-to-door dynamics."
Included in the innovative fleet of vehicles that will revolutionize Dubai's mobility, NEXT is currently the subject of public and private negotiations to integrate it with the public transportation system both for services involving the hospitality industry, which are crucial given that tourism generates more than 40 percent of the emirate's revenue, with enormous benefits for traffic mitigation. "Dubai is a focal point for NEXT not only because this is where our main financial and operational partnership is located today," Gecchelin concludes, "but also because today this hub, which everyone looks to as they once did referring to London or New York, has become the bridge for our increasingly dense contacts with the world's east, where the largest concentration of new smart cities is located."