One in 20 taxis in Dubai will be driverless by 2023 under an ambitious road map for the future unveiled by transport chiefs.
More than half of the emirate's fleet will also be eco-friendly as part of the Dubai Taxi Corporation's Strategic Plan for 2021 to 2023.
The bold vision has been backed by the emirate's Roads and Transport Authority.
Mattar Al Tayer, director general of the authority, outlined efforts to harness artificial intelligence and smart technology systems to enhance the performance of the public transport network and bolster customer satisfaction.
He stressed the importance of providing high-quality services to the public as the emirate prepares to welcome millions of visitors to Expo 2020 Dubai.
Mr Al Tayer set out a series of lofty goals for Dubai's taxi sector to achieve over the next two years.
“The process requires increasing the fleet of taxis and limos to match the rapid growth seen by the emirate and step up the integration of transportation means. The ultimate goal of these efforts is to ease the mobility of mass transit riders to their final destinations, especially Expo 2020 visitors,” he said.
“The plan includes 51 initiatives spanning several key aspects highlighted by: increasing DTC’s market share in the taxi sector from 41.5 per cent to 44 per cent by 2023, increasing the market share of limousines operated by e-hail apps from 8.5 per cent to 12 per cent by 2023, and increasing the percentage of taxi trips through the same apps from 14 per cent to 16 per cent by 2023.
"The plan also aims to convert 5 per cent of the taxi fleet to autonomous vehicles by 2023 and increase the percentage of environmentally friendly vehicles to 56 per cent."
Dubai presses ahead with autonomous strategy
Dubai's RTA recently signed an agreement with General Motors-backed Cruise to operate driverless taxis and offer shared transport services in Dubai.
The partnership − the first outside the US − was announced by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, in April.
“Dubai will be the first outside America to operate self-driving Cruise vehicles, in fulfilment of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid’s vision that Dubai is always in first place and the best city to live and work,” said Sheikh Hamdan.
“Our goal is to convert 25 per cent of the total ... trips in Dubai to self-driving trips through various means of transport by 2030.”
Dubai aims to have as many as 4,000 driverless taxis on the roads by 2030.
Abu Dhabi backs driverless plans
Abu Dhabi plans to introduce driverless taxis in the emirate this year, in the latest step forward for the cutting-edge technology.
The Department of Municipalities and Transport partnered with Bayanat, part of the G42 group, to lead trials on the use of self-driving vehicles.
The first phase of the high-tech project will feature three self-driving vehicles providing free transport services from hotels, restaurants, shopping malls and offices at Yas Mall.
More than 10 vehicles will hit the roads for the second stage of the futuristic initiative, which will be extended to locations across the capital.
The trial run will begin in the last quarter of this year.