While Cruise operates its Chevy Bolt EV-based prototypes in fully autonomous mode in the United States, the two vehicles in Dubai will at first be driven by human Cruise employees to ensure the company garners an accurate depiction of the city’s streets. The maps and data will eventually be used to operate fully autonomous test vehicles in the city before Cruise launches its fully autonomous ride-hailing service there using the Cruise Origin in 2023.
GM signed an agreement with Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA) in April of 2021 granting it exclusive access to autonomous taxi services in the city through to 2029. Mattar Al Tayer, director general of the Dubai RTA, hopes to have as many as 4,000 autonomous taxis roaming the city’s streets by 2030.
“Preparing digital maps is an essential step in the process of operating self-driving Cruise Origin vehicles, which will be deployed in limited numbers next year to offer taxi and e-Hail services,” Al-Tayer said. “This initiative enhances Dubai’s pioneering role in self-driving transport. It is an important step towards realizing the Dubai Smart Self-Driving Transport Strategy aimed to transform 25% of total mobility journeys in Dubai into journeys on various self-driving transport means by 2030.”
The Cruise Origin is a Level 4 autonomous vehicle that is expected to enter production at GM’s Factory Zero plant later this year. The AV uses the automaker’s BEV3 platform, an Ultium lithium-ion battery and Ultium Drive electric motors.
In addition to Dubai, the Cruise Origin will also eventually be put into service in Japan. Cruise announced a plan last year to send autonomous prototypes to Japan for testing and development purposes with the eventual goal of eventually launching a ride-hailing service in the country in partnership with domestic manufacturer Honda.