Want To Test Autonomous Vehicles in Dubai? Here’s The Legal Roadmap

driverless vehicles
Image credit: RTA website

Dubai wants its roads to be on autonomous mode by 2030 and as directed by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the road was set to achieve this goal as part of the ‘Dubai Autonomous Transportation Strategy’ launched by Dubai Future Foundation in conjunction with Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).

As part of the strategy, the aim is to transform 25% of the total transportation in Dubai to autonomous mode by 2030, involving 5 million daily trips, saving AED 22 billion in annual economic costs.

In line with this strategy, the RTA has now unveiled rules and regulations to ensure smooth trial runs of driverless vehicles on roads.

According to Ahmed Hashim Bahrozyan, CEO of the RTA’s Public Transport Agency and Chairperson of the Smart and Sustainable Transport Committee, “Rules enacted aim to achieve the strategic targets of Dubai Smart Mobility Strategy calling for transforming 25% of mobility trips in Dubai into self-driving transport means by 2030. 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.”

Here’s a break-up of what the legislation says

All individuals, firms and public entities intending to carry out trials on autonomous vehicles in Dubai must sign contracts with the RTA. This will define the rights and duties of both parties. Stipulations set in the permit will be granted by RTA’s Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors.

Roles and Responsibilities of RTA
As per the legislation, RTA will set the testing environment in terms of roads, areas and speeds governing the test runs. It has been tasked with preparing the infrastructure and logistics of the trial run in coordination with the concerned entities.

Other Entities
Dubai Police and Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services also have defined roles under the new legislation and have been given the responsibility of coordinating with RTA, particularly in assessing the test-run of autonomous vehicles. They will also deploy traffic patrols and ambulance vehicles required for conducting the trial run.

Insurance Policy & Penalties
All autonomous vehicles undergoing the test runs in Dubai must hold a comprehensive insurance policy against accidents and civil responsibility and this policy must be valid throughout the testing period. It also entitles RTA to take measures if any of those parties that fail to honour its obligations. Measures include serving written notice, suspending the trial, abolishing the permit or annulling the contract. Do note that 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.


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