Dubai Customs deploys high-tech amphibious inspection vehicle

Fitted with high-tech detectors, the solar-powered vehicle can scan illegal materials on both land and water

Ships carrying hazardous and illegal substances can now be stopped from a distance of 300 metres with the launch of the first-of-its-kind amphibious vehicle designed by Dubai Customs.

Dubai Customs has launched an amphibious car for detecting illicit and hazardous substances in Dubai Creek and surrounding areas. The vehicle, which functions as a mobile lab, is equipped with high-end solar-powered technologies and can detect prohibited substances from up to a distance of 300 metres. The objective of the project is to aid Customs inspectors in the execution of their duties and responsibilities as well as putting an end to illegal goods entering the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The amphibious car will monitor ships and vehicles and remotely detect substances considered to be a threat to the region. The equipment on board the mobile lab is capable of scanning the perimeter, body and internal parts of a sea vessel. More than 10 high-tech inspection devices are part of this unique and innovative project, which is the first of its kind in the world. The lab equipment can analyse and give speedy results for over 60,000 chemical substances.

“It is the first amphibious laboratory in the world that can detect illegal and hazardous substances, such as drugs and radioactive materials, smuggled in steamboats and wooden dhows. It is equipped with advanced cameras that can send live videos and images to the main control room,” said Sami Eisa, the person behind the idea and Manager of the Intelligence Department in Dubai Customs.

Its solar-powered operation makes it eco-friendly, the remote inspections add to the efficiency of the inspection process, and the mobility reduces the need for fixed inspection centres, which are currently operating at a cost of  1 million Dirham each. It also adds to the safety of the inspection team by eliminating the need for boarding vehicles and reducing the risk of exposure to toxic substances.

Unveiled at the Gitex Technology Week 2015 (held at the Dubai World Trade Centre from 18 to 22 October), the Amphibious Lab Vehicle was highly appreciated by visitors as a visionary idea and ground-breaking initiative in the prohibition of illegitimate trade. It has been the recipient of IdeasUK and IdeasAmerica awards this year. The project reflects Dubai Customs’ eagerness to adapt modern technologies and improve the Department’s efficiency.

The amphibious vehicle received praise from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, during his visit to the Dubai Customs stand at the Gitex exhibition.