Preparation for the 2023 launch of the robotaxi, Cruise begins mapping Dubai’s streets

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Preparation for the 2023 launch of the robotaxi

Cruise has fulfilled its promise to launch an autonomous driving program in Dubai. A few weeks after the General Motors-backed autonomous vehicle company launched its commercial driverless operations at San Francisco. Cruise sent two of its self-driving Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles to Dubai in preparation for its planned launch in 2023 according to Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority.

Cruise and the RTA signed a partnership agreement last April to open a robotic taxi service in Dubai as part of UAE ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s vision for 25% of Dubai’s total transportation trips to be self-driving by 2030. Cruise was selected as Dubai’s sole robotaxi provider after a multi-year, comprehensive process.

Two Chevy Bolts were deployed in Jumeirah, a residential area along the coast, to map the city. They will be driven by special-trained humans. Cruise’s sensor suite includes radar, cameras and lidar to gather data about the car’s environment. This data can be used to create an autonomous driving map.

Cruise previously stated that the Dubai robotaxi service will use Cruise Origins. This is the company’s custom-built all-electric shuttle with no pedals or steering wheel. Mattar Al Tayer (director-general of RTA) stated in a statement that he hoped to have 4,000 Cruise Origins in Dubai in 2030.

Cruise does not currently have any Origins and has built Origins only for closed course testing, according to a Cruise spokesperson. Cruise is likely to begin Dubai operations with the proven Chevy Bolts, although they did not respond to requests for additional information.

Given the UAE’s unique regulatory environment, it’s not clear how the process of creating a self-driving vehicle service in Dubai will work. Cruise used a similar approach in San Francisco. It tested its AVs with drivers before offering a free service to employees. The public was then offered a free service. Cruise began charging for rides with drivers while simultaneously testing its fleet without a driver. After this, Cruise opened up its driverless service to employees, then to the public before being able to charge fees.

California’s strict regulations regarding testing and deployment of AVs played a major role in this process. Cruise will likely follow some of these steps in Dubai. The city has taken a bold approach to integrating self driving transport across all modes, including taxis and metros. It also wants to be a global leader in legislation and policy regarding self-driving transportation.

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