Dubai: RTA begins testing driverless taxis in Jumeirah

They are still in the trial phase, meaning no passengers are allowed and a safety driver is still present behind the wheel


Angel Tesorero

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Published: Thu 12 Oct 2023, 5:30 PM

Last updated: Thu 12 Oct 2023, 11:04 PM

Driverless taxis are now plying the streets of Dubai, in Jumeirah 1 area, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced on Thursday.

Autonomous taxis, however, are still in the trial phase meaning no passengers are allowed and a safety driver is still present behind the wheel.

“The trial is considered a step forward on the way to ensure RTA’s strategic objectives to make Mena’s first autonomous transportation a success along with elevating Dubai’s autonomous pioneership in the region,” RTA said in a statement.

RTA added the trial run is “the fruitful result of joint efforts of RTA and Cruise following successful data collection efforts and testing on closed test tracks.”

In a previous interview with Khaleej Times, Khaled Al Awadhi, director of Transportation Systems, Public Transport Agency at RTA, said the autonomous taxi — operated by US-based self-driving technology company Cruise, a subsidiary of General Motors (GM) — will take no human passengers yet during the trial phase. But select individuals will be able to take Cruise taxis by end of this year, before its full commercial operations by second half of 2024.

Self-Driving transport strategy

Cruise taxis can accommodate up to three passengers. Al Awadhi previously noted RTA has yet to determine the fare for the self-driving taxis but he hinted it will be comparable to limo taxis, which are usually 30 per cent higher than regular cabs in Dubai.

He added RTA will add more autonomous taxis in Jumeirah area next year and gradually deploy around 4,000 driverless cabs across Dubai by 2030 as part of its Smart Self-Driving Transport Strategy, which is aimed at transforming 25 per cent of mobility journeys across the city into smart and driverless journeys by 2030.

Test drives

Cruise has been running driverless ride hail services in US since February 2022. During a recent trip to San Francisco, RTA’s technical team took Cruise rides, confirming the authority's confidence in the technology.

RTA and Cruise are using Chevrolet Bolt, a subcompact hatchback that is all-electric and emission-free. It equipped with a suite of sensors, including LiDAR (laser sensor that uses near-infrared light to detect the shapes of objects), cameras, and radars to determine the distance of objects and people on the streets.


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