The world of driverless cars and taxis is closer than you think, with UAE’s Dubai becoming the first location outside of the USA intending to offer the service in 2023; but in the meantime, it’s laying down the groundwork that will facilitate that dream to happen.
This groundwork is worked on by two electric vehicles (EV) sent by a US company named Cruise in collaboration with the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). These two EVs are mapping out most of the Emirate, learning more about every street, corner, square, and pedestrian crossing to ensure future driverless taxis have no problem navigating the streets.
These EVs have powerful sensors, and use LIDAR (Light detection and ranging) technology, and cameras to collect data and precisely recreate Dubai as a highly detailed map to ensure that future autonomous vehicles can find their way accurately and safely.
The country is following the plan to introduce driverless taxi and e-hail services starting in 2023, however, if you’re expecting to see a lot of them next year, you’d be mistaken. According to Mattar Al Tayer, Director General of RTA, it would be rolling out in small numbers in 2023, with the hopes of 4000 cars by 2030.
“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 4000 vehicles by 2030, and enhance Dubai’s pioneering role in self-driving transport. It is an important step towards realizing the Dubai Smart Self-Driving Transport Strategy aimed to transform 25 percent of total mobility journeys in Dubai into journeys on various self-driving transport means by 2030,” said Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of RTA.
This is a welcome change in the region, as more countries tend to introduce several new technologies to make life easier for their citizens, and with Dubai always being future forward, it’s only a matter of time until it fulfills its dream of being the smartest city in the world.
This isn’t the first time the UAE introduce a driverless taxi service though, as the country has several projects in this field as it also presented the company TXAI in Abu Dhabi in 2021, reaching a testing phase.
The testing phase still had a safety officer in the driving seat to ensure riders would reach their destination safely.
“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,” Al Tayer added.
At the beginning of 2022, Cruise opened its doors to the public in Sand Fransisco, USA, where it offered free rides for individuals to try out their driverless taxis and experience the ride.
So far, the company has been enjoying some success, with the video they shared of riders’ experience stating that it was everything from weird and strange, to scary and fun.
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