Image credit: WAM
Dubai could soon have autonomous vehicles on the road, as the emirate’s Roads and Transport Authority, ramps up the tests of self-driving cars across different areas. More recently, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, tested RTA’s Chevrolet Cruise autonomous vehicle (AV) in the Jumeirah 1 area on Thursday.
Chevrolet Cruise autonomous vehicles in Dubai
Sheikh Hamdan’s car was a General Motor’s (GM) Chevrolet Bolt-based Cruise, which was part of a fleet of “Meznah” vehicles.
The Dubai Crown Prince announced on his Instagram stories that self-driving taxis will soon be available on Dubai roads. The video was captioned: “We are launching automated self-driving taxis soon on Dubai’s road.”
The launch of the self-driving cars in Dubai would make it the first city outside the US to deploy them on the streets.
The test follows Roads and Transport Authority (RTA)’s announcement in 2022 to set up Dubai as the first international market for Cruise, underscoring the city’s emergence as a global leader in adopting future technologies, reported state news agency WAM.
The test was conducted by a high-level delegation comprising of Mattar Al Tayer, Director General, chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the RTA, and Lieutenant General Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police, along with Jack Uppal, President and Managing Director of GM Africa Middle East, and Todd Brugger, vice president of Global Market at Cruise, as well as a team of engineers from both RTA and Cruise.
Sheikh Hamdan was accompanied by Mattar Al Tayer and Lt General Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, on the test drive in the Jumeirah 1 area. This marked the official start of Dubai’s first self-driving vehicle test ride.
“The testing of Cruise AVs is a crucial step towards enhancing Dubai’s global leadership in implementing self-driving transport. It contributes to Dubai’s Strategy for Smart Self-Driving Transport aimed at converting 25 per cent of all mobility journeys in the emirate to self-driving modes by 2030,” said Al Tayer.
“The deployment of autonomous vehicles underscores the RTA’s keenness to collaborate with leading global entities to advance AV technologies. Autonomous vehicles will play a pivotal role in offering innovative solutions for transportation challenges, curbing urban congestion, and elevating road safety.
Deployment of self-driving cars in Dubai
In April 2023, GM started digital mapping preparations for self-driving Cruise vehicles in an area of Jumeirah 1 under the guidance of safety drivers. The process involved using Cruise’s HD mapping technology of the surrounding environment using specially equipped mapping vehicles, fitted with an array of sensors, including lidars and ranging devices, cameras, and more.
As part of ongoing testing and validation, in October, Cruise began limited testing with five autonomous vehicles accompanied by safety drivers behind the wheel.
The tests are set to continue with safety drivers for key stakeholders in Jumeirah, reported WAM.
At a later date, and following the developmental rides, the RTA will announce a registration process allowing selected members of the public to use the Cruise ride hailing app to experience the futuristic services of the Cruise Autonomous transport technologies.
The spread of autonomous vehicles marks a significant technological shift in transport systems. They support the RTA’s efforts to leverage the integration between mass transport systems and easing the mobility of public transport riders.
“It facilitates passengers’ journeys to their final destinations and provides services to a large portion of underserved users such as senior residents, and People of Determination,” added Al Tayer.
In April 2021, the RTA signed an agreement with Cruise to operate Autonomous Vehicles for ridehail services as part of the RTA’s efforts to bolster Dubai’s position as a leader in self-driving transport. It also supports Dubai’s vision to transform itself into the smartest city in the world.