A fleet of American self-driving taxis is heading to Dubai

·1-min read
Dubai hopes to have one quarter of trips taking place in autonomous vehicles by 2030.

Self-driving car specialist Cruise has announced the launch of a first fleet of entirely autonomous vehicles in Dubai. It will be the first collaboration outside the US for the American manufacturer, which is a subsidiary of General Motors. By 2030, some 4,000 autonomous vehicles should be on the roads of Dubai.

The agreement will soon allow Cruise to start running autonomous taxis and ride-sharing services in the Emirate. This is expected to start with a limited number of vehicles in 2023, before growing to a fleet of some 4,000 cars by 2030.

The agreement will make Cruise the exclusive provider of autonomous taxi and ride-sharing services in Dubai until 2029. For that, the firm will create a new local company based in the Emirate, charged with deploying, running and maintaining the fleet.

The local authorities' decision to implement this kind of service is in part driven by a desire to improve road safety, as over 90% of accidents in the Emirate are caused by human error. Moreover, these 100% electric vehicles also promise to be more environmentally friendly. The scheme also forms part of Dubai's plan to have one quarter of journeys taking place in entirely autonomous vehicles by 2030.

For years, Cruise has been testing the Origin, its self-driving car with no steering wheel or pedals, on US roads. A fully autonomous electric vehicle, the Origin requires no direct input from a driver. Each vehicle is equipped with sensors capable of monitoring road conditions in the greatest detail and avoiding collisions with any obstacles.

This agreement with the Dubai authorities could accelerate the development of these kinds of services, not just in the Middle East, but elsewhere in the world.

David Bénard