Friday, June 25, 2021

Cruise self-driving taxis to hit Dubai streets

Dubai will be the first international commercial market for California-based Cruise’s all-electric, self-driving, shared ride-hail service after its San Francisco launch.

The agreement with Dubai Roads & Transport Authority (RTA) will see Cruise operate self-driving taxis and ride-hailing services in the emirate. The agreement will make Dubai the first non-US city in the world where Cruise will commercially operate these vehicles.

The deployment of these self-driving vehicles is expected to improve road safety levels as over 90% of accidents are due to human errors. The all-electric vehicles are environmentally friendly and capable of serving a wide range of clients from different community segments, including seniors.

This agreement will support Dubai’s 2030 vision for self-driving technology, as part of which the emirate seeks to reduce transportation costs by AED900m a year and save AED1.5bn a year by reducing environmental pollution by 12 per cent, as well as generate AED18bn in annual economic returns by increasing the efficiency of the transportation sector in Dubai.

His Excellency Mattar Mohammed Al Tayer, director-general of the RTA, signed the agreement with former US Ambassador and Cruise’s chief legal officer Jeff Bleich. Dubai Crown Prince His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum witnessed the signing and praised the agreement, saying it would raise the global profile of Dubai in self-driving transport and support efforts to transform Dubai into the smartest city in the world.

“This agreement, which is the first of its kind worldwide between a government entity and a leading developer of autonomous vehicles, and autonomous vehicle technology, is a major step towards realising Dubai’s self-driving transport strategy aimed at converting 25% of total trips in Dubai into self-driving transport trips across different modes of transport by 2030,” he said.

Cruise’s partnerships with auto manufacturing giants give it the ability to build its self-driving cars on standard production lines, which should ensure performance and safety standards.

Cruise will be the exclusive provider of self-driving taxis and ride-hailing services till 2029. Dubai will be the first non-US city where the Cruise Origin, a purpose-built all-electric, self-driving vehicle, will be launched. Under the agreement, Cruise will establish a local Dubai-based company that will be responsible for the deployment, operation and maintenance of the fleet.

“The selection of Cruise was not taken lightly,” said Al Tayer. “We engaged in a comprehensive, multi-year process to choose the best possible partner. Cruise’s technology, resources, purpose-built vehicle, automaker partnerships, approach to safe testing and deployment and strategy give them the ability to launch safely and faster than any other company. Preparations for the launch of the self-driving service will start shortly.”

The operation of Cruise self-driving vehicles will start with a limited number of vehicles in 2023, with plans to scale up to 4000 vehicles by 2030.

“RTA will facilitate the governance of the service provided by the company and support the introduction of the appropriate legislative environment, policies and regulations required for operating this technology,” said Al Tayer. “Self-driving vehicles will bring a fundamental shift in transportation and offer innovations for mobility and congestion in the city.”

The introduction and operation of the vehicles will be gradual and begin in specific areas, scaling as the community experiences their safety and benefits first-hand. The vehicle will be fitted with sensors to monitor road conditions, and controls to avoid collision with any objects, even with those the human eye cannot see.

“The operation of self-driving taxis will also enhance the integration between transit means, which will ease the mobility of public transport riders and simplify the process of being transported to their final destinations, first and last-mile,” said Al Tayer.

Dan Ammann, CEO of Cruise, added: “The Cruise Origin will make transportation safer, a better experience, more affordable and better for the planet. Dubai and the RTA are leading the way in making this a reality for their people, and for people everywhere.”

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