Dubai licence allows autonomous testing on streets

  • October 23, 2023
  • Steve Rogerson

The Roads & Transport Authority (RTA) in Dubai has issued the first licence to test drive autonomous vehicles on the streets of the emirate.

Working with California-based self-driving car company Cruise, the RTA is testing an autonomous Chevrolet Bolt in the Jumeirah area. This test of autonomous technology with a safety driver is the result of the joint efforts made by the RTA and Cruise after completing data collection and testing on closed test routes.

Cruise has been operating a self-driving taxi service in the USA since February 2022. During a trip to San Francisco, the RTA’s technical team used Cruise vehicles to travel, which confirmed its confidence in Cruise technology.

This experience is also a step in ensuring the achievement of the RTA’s objectives in testing self-driving means of transportation outside the USA, in the Middle East and North Africa, in addition to advancing Dubai’s position in the field of self-driving transportation. Such efforts call for investment in smart mobility and the application of technologies in harmony with the authority’s commitment to enhancing the well-being and safety of the emirate’s residents, tourists and visitors.

GM Cruise will work to verify the safety and performance of its self-driving vehicles in Dubai and the compatibility of the requirements of those vehicles with the digital and physical infrastructure of the target operating area in Jumeirah. The team will also work to develop the performance of self-driving technology during tests that demonstrate the maturity of Cruise vehicles, especially during critical traffic conditions in Dubai. During the initial stages of testing autonomous cruise vehicles on Dubai roads, there will be a safety driver behind the wheel.

The RTA ( has issued the first permit to test autonomous vehicles in Dubai. The permit was officially granted to Cruise, with which the authority concluded a partnership agreement to operate autonomous vehicles to provide taxi services and electronic reservations in the emirate in the future.

The goal is for 25% of trips in Dubai to be self-driving by 2030.

Cruise ( has entered a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with GM and Honda to establish a joint venture (JV) to provide driverless ridehail service in Japan starting in early 2026.

Co-developed with GM and Honda, the Cruise Origin purpose-built autonomous vehicle can carry up to six passengers with comfortable camp-fire seating. Approximately 500 Origins will be manufactured by GM for the launch of this JV at the Factory Zero Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant in Michigan.

The venture will coordinate and collaborate with various stakeholders, including national and local governments, and transportation service providers in Japan. The service aims to help address a driver shortage in Japan, and offer a safer, more accessible form of transportation. Pending government approvals, initial testing will begin next year and commercialisation will begin in central Tokyo in early 2026. The three companies plan to expand and scale the service to areas outside of central Tokyo.