Dubai's Self-Driving Taxis Coming Out Next Month
Dubai Makes History: Self-Driving Taxis to Hit the Streets Next Month
Next month, Dubai will see the launch of fully automated self-driving taxis. This comes after the successful digital mapping of the Jumeirah 1 area, as confirmed by a senior official from the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) on Tuesday.
Details of the Announcement
Khaled Al Awadhi, the RTA director of Transportation Systems at Public Transport Agency, shared this exciting news during the 3rd Dubai World Congress for Self-Driving Transport. In the first week of October, five driverless taxis will hit the 8km stretch of Jumeirah Road, running between Etihad Museum and Dubai Water Canal.
Information about the Autonomous Taxis
These autonomous taxis, operated by Cruise, a subsidiary of General Motors (GM), will not carry human passengers during the trial phase. However, select individuals will have the chance to ride in Cruise taxis by the end of this year, with full commercial operations expected by the second half of 2024.
When this system is fully operational, Dubai will become the first city in the world to commercially operate Cruise self-driving vehicles outside the US.
“The launch of autonomous vehicles will bring a positive impact on Dubai’s transportation landscape and wellbeing. The rollout of autonomous vehicles will alleviate traffic congestion, lower the number of traffic accidents, and cut harmful emissions”, this was stated by the RTA back in April when they announced the road data collection.
Digital Mapping Process
The digital mapping of the Jumeirah 1 area, carried out by RTA and Cruise, has been completed successfully. Two Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles (EVs) driven by humans have been collecting data since July, capturing streets, pedestrian crossings, signs, and other road features in Dubai’s Jumeirah area. This data will form the foundation for a navigable digital map for driverless vehicles.
Notably, the process went smoothly without any glitches. Al Awadhi pointed out that “Even people wearing abayas and hijabs were recorded to distinguish them as pedestrians on the streets”.
Capacity and Fare Information
In terms of capacity, Cruise taxis can accommodate up to three passengers. While the exact fare for these self-driving taxis is yet to be determined, Al Awadhi hinted that it will be in line with limo taxis, which are typically around 30% more expensive than regular cabs in Dubai.
The self-driving taxi model, the all-electric and emission-free Chevrolet Bolt, is equipped with a range of sensors, including LiDAR, cameras, and radars to gauge distances from objects and people on the streets.
Future Plans and Smart Transport Strategy
Looking ahead, RTA plans to introduce more autonomous taxis in the Jumeirah area next year. This is part of their broader goal to gradually deploy 4,000 driverless cabs across Dubai by 2030, in line with their Smart Self-Driving Transport Strategy. The aim is to make 25% of mobility journeys in the city smart and driverless by 2030.
Jumeirah was chosen for the initial rollout due to its strategic location and rich tourist attractions. Initially, the self-driving Cruise taxis will operate exclusively within the confines of the Jumeirah area, with pick-up and drop-off limited to that region. They will also adhere to the area's speed limit, which is set at 70kph.
At the Dubai World Congress for Self-Driving Transport, which concludes on Wednesday, alongside the three-passenger Cruise taxi, there's also the shuttle-like Cruise Origin on display. Designed for ridesharing, it can accommodate up to six passengers.
According to Cruise, this vehicle lacks a steering wheel or pedals, and is built to travel at highway speeds. Its interior is spacious, featuring seats facing each other, complete with personal USB ports and digital displays providing information about the journey.