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Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Dubai to deploy self-driving taxis by 2023

The UAE metropolis has signed a contract with Cruise, a subsidiary of General Motors, to deploy up to 4,000 self-driving taxis by 2030.

The autonomous vehicle will soon become a reality in Dubai. The metropolis announced, Monday, April 12, that it had reached an agreement with the American company Cruise with a view to deploying a fleet of autonomous taxis on its territory from 2023.

The contract will ensure Cruise, majority-owned by General Motors, the exclusivity of the robotaxi market in the city until 2029. Dubai will thus become the first city outside the United States to welcome autonomous taxis. Cruise, however, hopes to succeed in launching a similar fleet in San Francisco – where some 200 vehicles are still in the testing phase – in a shorter period of time. In total, the agreement signed between the two parties plans to gradually deploy 4,000 units on the roads of the Emirates by 2030. The vehicle in question, called Cruise Origin was unveiled in January 2020 and will be manufactured in Detroit by General Motors. Fully electric – it goes without saying – the Cruise Origin is devoid of a steering wheel, driver’s seat, and pedals. It will be able to operate on the highway by carrying up to six passengers.

Dubai is betting heavily on this agreement, the amount of which has not been disclosed. Thanks to autonomous transport, the city hopes to reduce its fixed costs related to transport by 900 million Emirati dirhams (around 205 million euros) per year, while reducing its automobile pollution by 12%. Above all, the metropolis hopes to reap the fruits of its new strategy to record economic benefits in the order of 18 billion dirhams (4.1 billion euros) and thus consolidate its place as a new tourist El Dorado.

In addition to autonomous vehicles, the emirate intends to become the first city in the world to host a flying taxi service. Since 2017, the economic capital of the United Arab Emirates has partnered with the German startup Volocopter, which continues to test its aircraft there. The contract signed on April 12 also provides for Cruise to set up premises in Dubai, from where it will be responsible for the deployment and maintenance of the fleet. “Cruise’s selection was not taken lightly.

We have embarked on a comprehensive process, over several years, to choose the best possible partner (…) Cruise’s strategy gives it the ability to proceed with a safer and faster launch than any other company, ”said Mattar Mohammed Al Tayer, chairman of the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority. Founded in 2013, Cruise had 40 employees when it was acquired by General Motors three years later, for an estimated $ 500 million to $ 1 billion (between € 418 million and € 837 million).

The company is now valued at $ 30 billion (25 billion euros) and enjoys the support of economic heavyweights such as Microsoft, Honda, or Softbank.

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