Cruise delivers on its promise to launch an autonomous driving service in Dubai. Just a few weeks after the General Motors-backed AV company officially launched its driverless commercial operations in San Francisco, Cruise has sent two of its Chevrolet Bolt autonomous electric vehicles to Dubai to map the city in preparation for a planned launch. in 2023, according to Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).
Last April, Cruise signed a partnership agreement with the RTA to open a robotic taxi service there as part of the UAE ruler The Vision of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to convert 25% of total transport trips in Dubai to self-driving trips by 2030. After an “extensive, multi-year process to choose the best possible partner”, Cruise was chosen as Dubai’s exclusive robot taxi provider until 2029.
The two Chevy Bolts, which were mapped on Sunday, will initially be deployed in the city’s Jumeirah area, a residential area along the beach, and driven by people with special training. Cruise’s sensor suite includes lidar, radar and cameras to collect data about the car’s environment, which can then be used to create a virtual map for the autonomous driver.
Cruise had previously said the robotic taxi service in Dubai will use Cruise Origins, the company’s purpose-built all-electric shuttle with no steering wheel or pedals. Mattar Al Tayer, RTA’s director general, said in a statement that he hopes to reach Dubai’s 4,000 Cruise Origins by 2030.
However, Cruise does not currently have Origins in use and has so far only built Origins for testing closed courses, a Cruise spokesperson said. The company did not respond in time to requests for more information, but it is likely that Cruise will begin operations in Dubai with the tried-and-true Chevy Bolts.
It is also not clear what the process to realize a self-driving service in Dubai will look like, given the different regulations in the UAE. In San Francisco, Cruise followed a roadmap that included testing his AVs with drivers behind the wheel before opening a free service for employees, followed by the public. Cruise then began calculating for driver-driven rides while simultaneously testing his driverless fleet. The company then opened its driverless service first to employees and then to the public, before finally being able to charge fees for it.
Much of this process was dictated by California’s strict regulations surrounding AV testing and deployment, but Cruise will likely follow some of the same steps in Dubai. The city takes an aggressive approach to integrating self-driving transport across all forms of public transport, from taxi and metro to buses and shuttles, and aims to set an example worldwide for policy and legislation on self-driving transport.