Autonomous taxis on Cruise control in Dubai next month

Only select passengers on board during testing period
Autonomous taxis on Cruise control in Dubai next month
Cruise taxis (image courtesy of RTA)

Khaled Al Awadhi, RTA director of Transportation Systems, Public Transport Agency at RTA told media on September 26 that autonomous self-driving taxis will be operational in Dubai starting the first week of October 2023.

This followed the successful digital mapping of the Jumeirah 1 area.

Up to five driverless taxis will cruise along an 8 km stretch on Jumeirah Road, but no passengers will be on board during the trial period.

Certain personalities will be chosen to hitch a ride before 2023 ends. Full commercial operations won’t take place until H2 2024.

The autonomous taxi will be operated by the U.S.-based self-driving technology company Cruise. It is a subsidiary of General Motors (GM).

Driverless taxi and e-hail services will make Dubai the first city in the world outside of the U.S. to commercially operate Cruise self-driving vehicles.

RTA will gradually deploy 4,000 driverless cabs across Dubai by 2030, as part of its Smart Self-Driving Transport Strategy. The strategy seeks to transform 25 percent of mobility journeys across the city into smart and driverless journeys by 2030.

RTA announced in April this year that autonomous vehicles will reduce traffic congestion, traffic accidents, and harmful emissions.

Legislation for the operation of autonomous vehicles (Avs) in Dubai was passed in early 2023.

Cruise specs

Cruise taxis can take up to three passengers. Cab fares are expected to be comparable to limo taxis, carrying a price tag typically 30 percent higher than regular taxis in Dubai.

The car model of the self-driving taxi is an all-electric and emission-free Chevrolet Bolt. It is equipped with a suite of sensors, including LiDAR (a 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.

A shuttle-like Cruise Origin is designed for ridesharing service and can accommodate up to six passengers for mostly highway travel.

Read: Dubai begins digital mapping for a fleet of driverless taxis

Data collection and testing

RTA and Cruise announced that they have initiated data collection and testing of AV technology for Dubai’s traffic signals, signage, and drivers’ behavior.

The tests are done using Cruises’ five Chevy Bolt-based autonomous vehicles in Jumeirah 1 area.

“The work being done will ensure Cruise’s advanced generalizable AI and autonomous driving systems safely adapt to Dubai traffic conditions,” said Ahmed Hashem Bahrozyan, CEO of Public Transport Agency at RTA. “The aim is to obtain the best readings and data through onboard lidars, radars, and cameras that capture data and images within a 360-degree field of vision,” he added.

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