Self-Driving Cars in Dubai Face New Driverless Car Law

Dubai hopes introducing these measures will accelerate its smart mobility transformation and attract investment

Graham Hope

April 25, 2023

2 Min Read
Getty Images

Dubai’s determination to become a global leader in automated transport has been reinforced with the announcement of a new law that covers driverless cars.

The law was issued by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, and ruler of Dubai, and is intended to back up his plan to transform Dubai into “a model for cities of the future and the best city in the world to live, work and visit.”

The new law outlines the responsibilities Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) will have in regulating the sector.

The agency will be tasked with developing strategic policies to advance the introduction of autonomous vehicles (AVs) in Dubai, including identifying specific categories of AV and setting operational and technical benchmarks.

The RTA will also be granted responsibility for deciding the areas and roads AVs can operate in, setting their speed limits and providing a framework for their safe operation, including traffic management measures if necessary.

Licenses will be mandatory for all AV operators, and the RTA will be the body that decides who these are issued to. Key considerations for the granting of licenses include passing all relevant technical tests the RTA chooses to set, and the ability of AVs to understand road signs. 

Related:GM’s Cruise Ramps up Robotaxi Testing in Dubai

The new law also sets out a procedure in the event of any accidents, with operators responsible for covering the cost of all associated damages.

And it addresses the question of possible AV sales and changes of ownership, which will only be permitted in Dubai through agents approved by the RTA. 

Fines for violating the new law could reach an annual maximum of around $13,600.

Dubai’s move is likely to be observed with interest by other countries across the world. While automated transport technology has advanced significantly over the past few years, a common complaint has been that regulatory approval has not kept pace. Dubai hopes that introducing these measures will accelerate its smart mobility transformation and attract investment in the sector.

Momentum is certainly gathering in the Emirate towards the introduction of driverless vehicles. General Motors-owned Cruise is already testing its robotaxis in tandem with the RTA, after mapping operations were launched last summer.  It is hoped a small fleet of Cruise’s AVs will be operating in the city’s Jumeirah area by the end of the year.

And an autonomous electric truck, the EVO.1, started testing in Dubai South in December.

Dubai’s plans to accelerate the rollout of electric AVs are driven by a desire to alleviate traffic congestion, lower the number of traffic accidents and cut emissions.

Related:Cruise Starts Mapping Dubai for Self-Driving Taxis

About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

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