Dubai introduces new rules for test runs of driverless cars

Companies planning to test autonomous vehicles required to get insurance

Image used for illustrative purpose. Highrise buildings in Dubai cityscape, Dubai Emirate, United Arab Emirates. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Highrise buildings in Dubai cityscape, Dubai Emirate, United Arab Emirates. Image used for illustrative purpose.

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As driverless cars race towards a commercial reality in the UAE, the government is setting new rules to streamline trial runs of autonomous vehicles in the streets.

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced on Monday that a new legislation has been enacted for individuals, companies and public entities who want to introduce self-driving modes of transport in the emirate.

The legislation provides for all concerned parties intending to carry out trials on autonomous vehicles in Dubai to conclude contracts with RTA, as well as secure a comprehensive insurance policy against accidents and civil responsibility, the authority said in a statement.

“It orders manufacturers and other parties concerned with the trial run to comply with the conditions and processes stated by RTA in this regard,” said Ahmed Hashim Bahrozyan, CEO of Public Transport Agency and chairperson of the Smart and Sustainable Transport Committee, RTA.

As part of the Dubai Smart Mobility Strategy, the emirate seeks to transform 25 percent of all transportation trips in Dubai into smart and driverless by 2030.

This isn’t the first-time self-driving vehicles are being introduced to the UAE’s commuting public. The Dubai Metro, for one, is considered as one of the largest driverless mass transportation systems in the world.

“The underlying objective of the strategy is to reduce the cost of transport, carbon emissions and accidents, besides saving hundreds of million hours wasted in driving conventional vehicles,” said Bahrozyan.

In late 2018, the RTA and the Dubai Police started a three-month trial run for Dubai’s first driverless taxi The vehicle, which can accommodate four passengers, ran on the streets of the Dubai Silicon Oasis.


Under the new legislation, the RTA will serve as the licensing authority for the trial runs. It is tasked to check, audit and endorse the technical, security and safety standards of trials that may be conducted by driverless vehicle manufacturers, developers and auto dealers.

The authority may serve a written notice, suspend the trial, abolish the permit or annul the contract in cases where the obligations are not met.

“The legislation exempts RTA from any third-party responsibility in connection with any losses incurred as a result of the test-run of autonomous vehicles, and obliges those parties to solely assume such responsibilities,” said Bahrozyan.

About the insurance required for the test runs, the Bahrozyan said the policy must be valid throughout the testing period.

(Writing by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)

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