Self-driving electric taxis — set to be on Dubai’s roads next year — will go on display at the Gitex technology exhibition, which opens on Monday.
The driverless cars will be shown off by the Roads and Transport Authority during the five-day Gitex Global event at the World Trade Centre in Dubai.
The Cruise Origin vehicle will be introduced as a taxi service next year, making Dubai among the first cities, apart from some in the US, to include self-driving cars in its transport offerings.
As part of a public-private partnership with US company Cruise, two Chevrolet Bolt electric cars equipped with cameras and sensors have already mapped out the streets of the Jumeirah neighbourhood.
The RTA said in August that rigorous testing would be carried out before adding the self-driving taxis to its fleet.
The high-resolution map of the physical environment in Jumeirah that began earlier this year used Cruise’s technology to collect data that would be continuously updated.
Mattar Al Tayer, the RTA’s director general, said this was an example of how the transport authority would successfully incorporate artificial intelligence and emerging technology to boost productivity.
“This [mapping] is in preparation for the launch of the actual service by 2023, rendering Dubai the first city in the world to commercially operate Cruise self-driving vehicles outside the US Cruise’s next-generation self-driving vehicle. The Origin will be deployed in limited numbers next year to offer taxi and e-hail services,” he said.
“We have plans to increase the number of deployed vehicles gradually to reach 4,000 by 2030.”
Transport officials earlier said that 10 autonomous vehicles would first be deployed in late 2023 in the first phase.
The tie-up with Cruise for its first international robotaxi service outside the US was announced by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, on Twitter last year.
“Dubai will be the first outside America to operate self-driving Cruise vehicles, in fulfilment of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid’s vision that Dubai is always in first place and the best city to live and work,” Sheikh Hamdan said in April 2021.
“Our goal is to convert 25 per cent of the total … trips in Dubai to self-driving trips through various means of transport by 2030.”
The ambition of the Dubai authorities is to offer several autonomous drive options for residents and tourists to choose from as part of a wider strategy to revolutionise transport.
Mr Al Tayer said the aim was to improve the quality of life and position Dubai as the world’s best city to live in.
The autonomous cars are part of Cruise’s fleet of commercial driverless vehicles operating in San Francisco.
The overall aim of using electric self-drive options is to cut crashes, emissions and congestion.
At Gitex, the Dubai Taxi Corporation will also display vehicles fitted with screens on which riders can watch the news or play games.