In partnership with the RTA, Cruise is starting the operation of two Chevrolet Bolt EVs to prepare digital maps for Cruise’s self-driving vehicles in Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Dubai is rolling out electric vehicles (EVs) fitted with sensors and cameras to prepare digital maps that will be used by driverless taxis by 2023, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced on Sunday.

The move comes in implementation of the directives of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council, to proceed with the partnership agreement between RTA and Cruise to operate Cruise autonomous vehicles for taxi and e-Hail services in Dubai.

This month, Cruise will start the operation of two Chevrolet Bolt EVs to prepare digital maps for Cruise’s self-driving vehicles. The process is a prelude for the launch of the actual service by 2023, rendering Dubai the first city in the world to commercially operate Cruise self-driving vehicles outside America.

The two Chevrolet Bolt EVs will be initially deployed on streets in Jumeirah area and driven by specialist drivers. Cruise’s technology uses a high-resolution map of the physical environment, which is created using specialised mapping vehicles equipped with a suite of sensors including LiDAR, camera, and others. The cars are driven throughout the city to collect data, which is then used to create and maintain a navigable map for autonomous vehicles (AVs).

4,000 vehicles

Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors, RTA, said: “Preparing digital maps is an essential step in the process of operating self-driving Cruise Origin vehicles, which will be deployed in limited numbers next year to offer taxi and e-Hail services. We have plans to increase the number of deployed vehicles gradually to reach up to 4,000 vehicles by 2030.”

He added: “This initiative enhances Dubai’s pioneering role in self-driving transport. It is an important step towards realising the Dubai Smart Self-Driving Transport Strategy aimed to transform 25 per cent of total mobility journeys in Dubai into journeys on various self-driving transport means by 2030.

“The operation of autonomous vehicles contributes to the integration of transport systems by easing the mobility of public transport riders and helping them to reach their final destinations. It fits well with RTA’s first and last-mile strategy approved last year relating to the first and last sectors of journeys from and to the nearest public transport points. It consists of two sections: groups and individuals.”

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Traffic safety

Al Tayer said the spread of autonomous vehicles marks a quality shift in public transportation systems. “It is associated with innovative solutions for facilitating mobility, easing city congestion, and boosting road traffic safety levels. Human errors are responsible for more than 90 per cent of accidents. The Autonomous vehicles are environmentally friendly electric vehicles, and can serve considerable numbers of customers, particularly senior citizens and residents, in addition to people of determination.”