Look ma, no driver: Dubai drives into the future

Tesla Model S

The road to Dubai’s driverless cars just got a little wider. Source: Shutterstock.

WATCH OUT, Dubai roads and city slickers. You are about to get driverless cars.

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has endorsed new testing standards for electric, hybrid, and self-driving vehicles to ensure that the emirate plays a “pioneering” role in their development.

RTA has also pledged they will be on the streets of Dubai “in the near future”.

In a statement, RTA’s Licensing Agency CEO Abdullah Yousef Al Ali said that 66 workshops have been held “with vehicle manufacturers, approved testing centers in Dubai and consultancy companies in the UAE to review these standards and share knowledge and ideas about them.”

“During these workshops, the responsibilities of each party were clearly defined and plans were developed to ensure the successful implementation,” he added.

Electric and hybrid vehicles are not new to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) city.

Since last year, the UAE authorities have been pushing for Dubai residents four to replace their petrol-powered cars in favor of zero-carbon emission electric vehicles.

The push, to help encourage greener drivers and roads, comes with perks and major savings.

This includes:

  • Free public charging: New electric vehicle (EV) buyers will be able to charge their vehicles for free at approved stations until 2019.
  • Free parking: At any of the designated green parking in Dubai
  • Free EV registration: Free EV registration and renewal fees as well.
  • Free Salik tag: A windscreen tag in order to drive through toll gates located across Dubai.

And also a license plate sticker identifying the vehicle as an electric car.

According to Dubai Electricity and Water (Dewa) CEO and Managing Director Saeed Mohammad Al Tayer, this is in line with the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 for Dubai to have the lowest carbon footprint in the world by 2050 and the Dubai Carbon Abatement Strategy to slash carbon emissions by 16 percent by 2021.

And what about the self-driving vehicles?

Last year, Tesla has made the first delivery of 50 out of 200 vehicles to Dubai.

The fleet, consisting of both Model S sedans and Model X SUVs, are each equipped with Tesla’s latest Autopilot software.

The goal is for the cars to evolve into a fully autonomous taxi service although they do not have full autonomous capabilities yet.

UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum is hoping 25 percent of Dubai’s transportation will be autonomous by 2030.

According to Al Ali, technical testing standards and related technologies will form a key part of the infrastructure necessary for the deployment of the self-driving cars.

But it will take place “in the near future”, he added.

The RTA said the strategy involves short-term plans coupled with urgent steps to be taken over the next 12 months, as well as long-term plans that look forward up to the year 2040.

Anyone else excited about this radical transformation?