Cruise charts Dubai ahead of ride-hail launch

  • August 3, 2022
  • William Payne

General Motor’s self driving subsidiary Cruise has begun charting Dubai to prepare digital maps for the company’s self-driving vehicles. The move is a prelude to the launch of a ride-hailing service in the country in 2023. The launch of the service will make Dubai the first city in the world to operate commercial Cruise ride hailing services outside the United States.

The digital charting of the city follows the go-ahead by the Crown Prince of Dubai to the agreement signed between the country’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and Cruise. The agreement claimed as the first of its kind worldwide between a government entity and a leading company in the field of autonomous vehicles. According to an official statement, the agreement with Cruise is a major step toward 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.

Two Chevrolet Bolt EVs will be initially deployed on Jumeirah streets and driven by specialist drivers. Cruise’s technology uses a high-resolution map of the physical environment, which is created using specialised mapping vehicles equipped with a suite of sensors including LiDAR, camera, and others, and are driven throughout the city to collect data, which is then used to create and maintain a navigable map for autonomous vehicles (AVs).

4,000 Vehicles

RTA director general Mattar Al Tayer said: “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 4,000 vehicles by 2030. 

“This initiative enhances Dubai’s pioneering role in self-driving transport. It is an important step towards realising the Dubai Smart Self-Driving Transport Strategy aimed to transform 25% of total mobility journeys in Dubai into journeys on various self-driving transport means by 2030. 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,” said Al Tayer.

Traffic Safety

“The spread of autonomous vehicles marks a quality shift in public transportation systems. It is associated with innovative solutions for facilitating mobility, easing city congestion, and boosting road traffic safety levels. Human errors are responsible for more than 90% of accidents. The Autonomous vehicles are environmentally friendly electric vehicles, and can serve considerable numbers of customers, particularly senior citizens and residents, in addition to people of determination,” said Al Tayer.