DUBAI: Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum on Monday approved the first license for self-driving vehicles. The license was given to WeRide company, granting them the opportunity to test self-driving vehicles on UAE roads. “Today, in the Council of Ministers, we approved the national policy for electric vehicles, which includes building a national network for electric vehicle chargers, regulating the electric vehicle market, and stimulating related industries to ensure reduced emissions, energy consumption, and the preservation of the quality of roads that the UAE enjoys.

We also approved today, within the Council of Ministers, the first national license for self-driving vehicles on the country’s roads, which was granted to the specialized WeRide company,” Sheikh Mohammed said via Twitter. Al-Maktoum also announced that the UAE will be the second country in the world to test autonomous vehicles on roads. Although fully autonomous vehicles have yet to make an appearance on the roads, Dubai has already carried out a few tests for driverless vehicles in the past few years.

In fact, the first driverless vehicle underwent trial way back in 2016 on Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard in Downtown Dubai for a month. Cruise, the San Francisco-based robo taxi company backed by automobile giant General Motors, will set up shop in the emirate by 2023. It is being said that The Origin, which was unveiled in January last year, will be operational in Dubai in 2023. Cruise tested the vehicles at their base in San Francisco. Then, the driverless Jaguar iPace was tested on the first opening day of the Roads and Transport Authority’s (RTA) Congress for Self-Driving in 2019.

It had embarked on a trial run of an autonomous vehicle at Expo 2020 Dubai. The vehicle was used to commute individuals on a dedicated path from the main entrance to staff offices. Leading the UAE’s initiative from the front, RTA has set an ambitious plan to have a limited number of vehicles by 2023 and hopes to scale up operations by having 4,000 self-driving taxis by 2030. This will make Dubai the first city outside the US to operate such vehicles. Dubai is poised to become one of the first cities in the world to issue regulations for the commercial use of autonomous vehicles next year. – Agencies