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Transportation & Logistics Services


The transportation sector plays a leading role in raising the economic level for many countries around the world. Therefore, it is crucial to develop new mobility and logistics techniques that can increase the competitiveness of the Kingdom in this important sector.



The transportation and logistics services sector is an important market in the Kingdom. According to Solidiance Co. report, the value of the Saudi transportation and logistics services sector was estimated to be 19 billion dollars in 2015. It is considered the biggest market in the gulf region, due to the strength of the Saudi economy and the high population density.

The Kingdom’s Vision 2030 has focused on the continuous development of this crucial sector to promote the country’s status in this field. This will be accomplished by establishing a vision to develop internal transportation networks and planning, and to utilize the Kingdom’s distinguished location and status among other countries in the world, providing a unique logistics platform capable of becoming the main world trade center.

KACST was keen to introduce a special initiative in the National Transformation Program of 2020 to develop and settle transportation and logistics services technology. The initiative attempts to develop comprehensive transportation systems inside the Kingdom’s cities, especially the major cities, to decrease the number of traffic accidents, heavy congestion, and fuel consumption. These objectives will be achieved by establishing advanced and low-cost computer systems. The initiative also aims to provide technical consultations on monitoring operations and logistics services. By studying creative solutions, such as the use of drones for logistics services. The initiative will also focus on developing self-driving trucks, given the total reliance on roads for the transportation of goods in the country, with a continually increasing demand on existing companies.


Self driving trucks have a high potential of impact on  the transportation sector, due to their fundamental role in reducing human error rates as well as reducing pollution, and oil consumption. Therefore protecting resources, and contributing to the effective transportation of goods to be distributed in markets. The Kingdom is dependent on land transportation due to a lack of water, sea pathways, or railways, hence such trucks are important for Saudi Arabia. This project aims to build a primary model of auto driven trucks which opens horizons to establish an integrated transporting network that links ports of the Kingdom with special routes designed particularly for such trucks. This would help in upgrading the quality of transportation networks for goods inside the country. The project will focus initially on training human resources on necessary techniques to operate such trucks. The research team will carry out work to  develop software programs for auto control which will enable trucks to operate in various situations and handle contingency positions and emergencies. This will be followed by testing the trucks in some sites in the Kingdom so as to ensure the efficiency of the software.

This project aims to develop a high performance virtual traffic light (VTL) system to improve traffic flows in urban areas. It is being conducted in collaboration with Carnegie Melon University by installing VTLs on a small fleet of vehicles to be tested in one intersection on the first phase of the project to measure their efficiency and impact on congestion.

The second phase of the project expands to cover five intersections and 500 vehicles with VTL capabilities.

The last phase will include hypothesis testing for a period of six months for example to quantify the effect of this technology on multiple fronts such as home-work commute and traffic accidents, and to test its potential for use in toll roads and conduct traffic analysis.

The goal of the Integrated Transportation Systems project is to conduct a comprehensive study of the transportation infrastructure in Riyadh, a rapidly growing city that faces diverse challenges – urban sprawl, population growth and an increasing demand for the city’s infrastructure in general and transportation specifically – that are each influenced by a variety of factors. The study addresses these complexities facing the transportation infrastructure of Riyadh and King Abdulaziz Project for Riyadh Public Transport. Accounting for the effects of social, environmental and demographic factors on public and private transportation use, the project investigates patterns of demand on the city’s infrastructure, identifying its effects on and relationships with existing transportation systems. The goal of this project is to help assist decision-makers, urban planners and even individuals develop future plans based on a more comprehensive understanding of the current state of transportation in Riyadh. This work is expected to help the city manage urban growth and the continually increasing demand for infrastructure. The methodology includes various studies through the analysis of big data gathered from various government organizations and agencies as well as communications companies and social networks. The study combines a range of methods for statistical analysis with modeling and simulation of urban transportation, to understand the effects of increasing travel demand on the city of Riyadh.

The study takes advantage of widely used modern technologies to gather data that can help evaluate the demand on the city’s transportation infrastructure, such as data on mobile phone usage, studies of traffic phenomena within the city and the use of data extracted from social media platforms. The study includes recommendations for the development of the city’s transportation infrastructure and evaluation of the demand for different modes of transportation along with a comprehensive analysis of the city’s urban landscape that can contribute to planning for future population growth and expansion. The project will ultimately help contribute to the planning of the King Abdulaziz Project for Riyadh Public Transport, currently the largest public transit project in the world.

KACST aims at developing several end-to-end systems to track mobile objects to serve the transportation and logistics sector in Saudi Arabia.

Sufun is a Satellite-Based Commercial Vessel Tracking System that collects standard signals of the Automatic Identification System (AIS) sent by all commercial vessels around the world. These signals contain critical information such as the vessel’s ID, speed, and status. Sufun develops a commercial payload that is launched onboard a satellite into a LEO orbit where it collects signals as it orbits Earth. The signals are stored onboard the satellite’s storage system and then sent to the ground station on every overpass. Once all this data is downloaded to the ground station, it gets decoded, cleaned, and then linked to vessels metadata to identify characteristics such as physical attributes and ownership of each vessel. This information is conveyed to customers in a user-friendly manner using a web-based interface.

The first payload of this type was launched onboard SaudiComSat-7 satellite in 2007 as the first Satellite-based AIS payload in the world. Then, in 2014, the second payload was launched onboard SaudiSat-4.

The two payloads are operational and collect millions of signals every day from more than 30,000 unique commercial vessels from all around the world giving the system an advantage compared to shore-based terrestrial AIS receivers. The system is being used by several organizations in the government and private sectors in Saudi Arabia.

In 2016, the daily satellite-based data has been complemented by terrestrial data. KACST has installed a terrestrial AIS receivers on one of its locations on the Arabian Gulf and participated in an international service to share this data with more than 70 countries in the world. At the same time, the IT infrastructure of the system has been upgraded to cope with the huge amount of data that needs proper processing and storage. Also, several features have been added to the system based on user requirements to provide a proper user experience, performance and usability wise.

Also in 2016, the team has provided detailed and specialized reports to various government committees regarding specific maritime incidents.

This project aims to create a complete integrated system for the management of pilgrims’ grouping and transportation in the holy places, to support field command units in handling emergencies that might occur during their journey, such as finding missing people and arresting intruders and illegals that might hinder the flow of movement. The system consists of unmanned vehicles that can collect data and take corrective actions in the field, and a central control room used for wireless communication and control. One type of robots to be used is flying robots (UAVs) for aerial monitoring and imagery to assist command units in forecasting and preventing complications. The other type is ground robots (UGVs) used for surveillance, search-and-rescue missions by using sensors and manipulators installed and fitted for various scenarios and conditions. All data collected and actions performed by the robotics units are sent to the central control room for review and approval. The system, when deployed, will lower the number of people needed in the crowd management unit and will increase the efficiency of the entire process. Also it will enhance emergency prediction and drop response time significantly.

The project aims to:

Design and manufacture flying robots equipped with surveillance cameras to increase the efficiency of flight time and increase the capacity of additional loads and maintain stability for better imaging results.

Design and manufacture a medium-sized robotic vehicle with several cameras, sensor and communication systems and with an automatic arm, a water disrupter and an explosive detector.

Design and manufacture a transport vehicle containing a control room to manage operations for more than one robot at a time. It also includes tools and spare parts for emergency maintenance.

The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2020. The project team consists of consultants and researchers from the National Center for Robot Technology and Smart Systems at KACST and specialists from the Ministry of Interior. Taqnia for robotics and smart systems will work on manufacturing and commercializing the project’s outcomes.