Dubai begins testing of driverless vehicles on public roads

Initial stages of road tests will include safety driver present behind the wheel

The testing of the Cruise vehicles follows up on previous trials on closed test tracks. Photo: Dubai Media Office
Powered by automated translation

Dubai has started supervised testing of driverless vehicles on public roads after US self-driving tech company Cruise was issued with a trial permit.

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority and Cruise began supervised testing of Chevrolet Bolt autonomous vehicles in Jumeirah 1.

The testing is being carried out with a safety driver present behind the wheel and follows up on previous trialling of the vehicles on closed test tracks.

The trial is the next step towards the RTA's plan to be the first in the Mena region to offer autonomous transport.

It has entered into a public-private partnership with 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.

Under the latest testing phase, the RTA and Cruise will assess the autonomous driving safety and performance of the vehicles in Jumeirah 1.

The team will also assess their performance in traffic in Dubai.

Cruise has been operating driverless taxi services in the US since February last year. The RTA's technical team recently visited San Francisco, where Cruise operates 24-hour robotaxi services, to test and confirm its confidence in the technology.

In April, a fleet of five electric cars completed the mapping out of Dubai roads.

The transport authority previously heralded the deal with Cruise as a major step in its goal to integrate self-driving transport in the emirate's road network.

Ten automated taxis are expected to begin to carry passengers by the end of the year.

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, when 4,000 driverless taxis are expected to be operating in Dubai.

The RTA said it would complete rigorous testing before then to ensure the taxis are prepared for the varying driving styles on UAE roads.

It is hoped wider adoption of autonomous vehicles will greatly reduce road accidents.

Updated: October 12, 2023, 3:47 PM