Sheikh Hamdan tests automated self-driven taxi in Dubai.
Sheikh Hamdan tests automated self-driven taxi in Dubai. Image Credit: @faz3/Instagram

Dubai: Get ready to see self-driving taxis in Dubai soon. On December 14, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, took to Instagram, to share three short clips testing a self-driving taxi.

According to a press release issued by the Government of Dubai Media Office (GDMO) Sheikh Hamdan went on the first demo ride of the Chevrolet Bolt-based Cruise autonomous vehicle (AV) in Jumeirah 1 area.

“We are launching automated self-driving taxis soon on Dubai’s roads,” Sheikh Hamdan captioned the first clip, a selfie video showing him sitting in the front passenger seat.

The video also shows Mattar Al Tayer, Director General, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and Lieutenant General Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police riding in the rear passenger seats.

The second and third clips show the taxi automatically slowing down for a bicycle rider, ahead of a speed bump, and as it approaches a school zone.

In April 2021, RTA revealed that Dubai will soon become the first city outside the US to commercially deploy self-driving technology company Cruise’s autonomous vehicles. RTA and Cruise, which is majority owned by leading global automotive company General Motors (GM), are working together to introduce the first autonomous taxi ride, with plans to roll out 4,000 vehicles by 2030.

The two entities signed an agreement to operate Autonomous Vehicles for ridehail services  to bolster Dubai’s position as a leader in self-driving transport. It also supports Dubai’s vision to transform itself into the smartest city in the world.

A photograph shared by Sheikh Hamdan showed a Cruise representative in the driver's seat explaining the features of the autonomous vehicle as it drove the four passengers around Dubai.

According to the press release, in April 2023, Cruise started digital mapping preparations for self-driving Cruise vehicles in an area of Jumeirah 1 under the guidance of safety drivers. The process involved using Cruise's HD mapping technology of the surrounding environment using specially equipped mapping vehicles, fitted with an array of sensors, including lidars and ranging devices, cameras, and more.

Testing and demo rides

As part of ongoing testing and validation, in October, Cruise began limited testing with five AVs accompanied by safety drivers behind the wheel. After the demo ride in December, the company will continue to conduct demo rides with safety drivers for key stakeholders in Jumeirah.

At a later date, and following the developmental rides, the RTA will announce a registration process allowing selected members of the public to use the Cruise ride hailing app to experience the futuristic services of the Cruise Autonomous transport technologies.

“The testing of Cruise AVs is a crucial step towards enhancing Dubai's global leadership in implementing self-driving transport. It contributes to Dubai's Strategy for Smart Self-Driving Transport aimed at converting 25% of all mobility journeys in the emirate to self-driving modes by 2030,” said Al Tayer.