Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid issues law for operating autonomous vehicles in Dubai

Law breakers could be fined up to a maximum of Dh50,000 for repeated offences

Specialised electric cars have mapped parts of Dubai, to help drive forward ambitious plans for the roll-out of autonomous public transport. Photo: RTA
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Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, has issued a new law that will govern the use of self-driving cars in Dubai.

The law outlines how Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority will regulate the use of driverless vehicles in the emirate, including the issuing of licences and transfer of ownership.

It also says that operators are responsible for covering all damages caused by accidents.

Under the law, the RTA will develop plans and policies to improve the operation of self-driving cars in Dubai, identify the various categories of autonomous vehicles, and set their technical, operational and safety benchmarks.

The authority is also responsible for demarcating the roads, areas and routes that autonomous vehicles will operate in ― and setting their speed limits.

The RTA is also tasked with developing the infrastructure for self-driving cars and introducing the traffic solutions necessary to ensure road safety and avoid traffic disruptions.

It will issue licences for driverless vehicles in the emirate, which are mandatory for their use in Dubai.

A licence will be issued once a vehicle can pass the RTA’s technical test, which includes having the technological capability to read road signs.

The law also outlines the responsibilities of operators, agents and passengers and defines the obligations of operators of autonomous vehicles in case of accidents.

Any sale of autonomous vehicles in Dubai can only be done through authorised agents and the transfer of vehicles from one operator to another is subject to RTA’s pre-approval.

Those who breach provisions of the law face fines between Dh500 and Dh20,000, which could be doubled in case of repeat breaches in the same year. The maximum fine is Dh50,000.

Any other legislation that may conflict with the new law will be annulled. The new law will be effective 90 days after its publication in the Official Gazette.

The RTA announced last year that ten automated taxis supplied by US firm Cruise are expected to begin carrying passengers later this year.

The authority said the vehicles will complete rigorous testing before that launch to ensure the taxis are prepared for the UAE roads.

The launch of driverless taxis is part of a long-term vision to make 25 per cent of total trips autonomous across various modes of transport by 2030.

The RTA announced last week that a fleet of five electric cars had mapped out the roads in parts of Dubai.

The Chevrolet Bolt vehicles were deployed in the Jumeirah 1 district to test technology and gather data on traffic signals, signage and driver behaviour.

The authority has entered into a public-private partnership with US company Cruise to oversee the introduction of self-driving taxis.

Cruise’s technology uses a high-resolution map of the physical environment, which is created using vehicles equipped with sensors including Lidar (Light detection and ranging) and cameras.

The vehicles were driven by specialist drivers to collect data, which will be used to create and maintain a navigable map for autonomous vehicles.

Updated: April 14, 2023, 6:04 PM