In a groundbreaking move, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has initiated a trial phase for autonomous taxis in the vibrant streets of Dubai’s Jumeirah 1 area. However, during this initial phase, a safety driver remains at the wheel, and passenger services are not yet available.
Strategic Milestone for Dubai
This trial marks a significant stride toward fulfilling the RTA’s strategic ambitions, aiming to establish the Middle East and North Africa’s first autonomous transportation system. Simultaneously, it solidifies Dubai’s leading role in the region’s autonomous vehicle sector.
Successful Collaboration with Cruise
The trial’s success is the result of a productive collaboration between RTA and Cruise, a US-based self-driving technology company and subsidiary of General Motors (GM). Together, they meticulously collected data and conducted testing on closed tracks to ensure the reliability and safety of the autonomous taxi service.
Timelines and Prospects
Khaled Al Awadhi, the Director of Transportation Systems at RTA’s Public Transport Agency, disclosed that, initially, Cruise’s autonomous taxis will not carry human passengers during the trial phase. However, a select group of individuals will have the chance to experience rides in Cruise taxis by the end of this year. Full commercial operations are slated to kick off in the second half of 2024.
Cruise’s Autonomous Fleet
Cruise’s self-driving taxis can accommodate up to three passengers. While the pricing structure for these self-driving taxi services is yet to be finalized, Al Awadhi hinted that it is likely to be akin to limousine taxis, which traditionally cost around 30% more than regular cabs in Dubai.
Dubai’s Smart Self-Driving Transport Strategy
As part of its Smart Self-Driving Transport Strategy, RTA plans to introduce additional autonomous taxis in the Jumeirah area in the coming year. The long-term vision includes deploying around 4,000 driverless cabs across Dubai by 2030. This ambitious strategy aims to transform 25% of all mobility journeys in the city into smart and driverless journeys within the next decade.
Innovative Vehicle Technology
The vehicles used in this initiative are Chevrolet Bolts, compact hatchbacks that are fully electric and emission-free. These vehicles are equipped with an array of sensors, including LiDAR, cameras, and radars, enabling them to detect objects and people on the streets with precision.
Cruise’s Proven Track Record
Cruise has been successfully operating driverless ride-hail services in the United States since February 2022. During a recent visit to San Francisco, RTA’s technical team had the opportunity to experience rides in Cruise vehicles, further solidifying the authority’s confidence in this cutting-edge technology.