On October 27, 2021, the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced that the emirate of Dubai, one of the nine emirates of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), would issue regulations related to the use of commercial autonomous vehicles by 2022.
In April 2021, the RTA signed an agreement with the US-based autonomous-car manufacturer Cruise, contracting the company to manufacture 4,000 driverless taxi cars. The first group of self-driving cars will begin operating on Dubai’s roads in 2023.
Safety Regulations for Road Testing Driverless Cars
The emirate of Dubai has issued two legal instruments providing safety regulations for road testing autonomous vehicles: Executive Council Resolution No. 3 of 2019 and Administrative Decree No. 501 of 2020.
Executive Council Resolution No. 3 of 2019
In April 2019, the Executive Council of the Emirate of Dubai issued Executive Council Resolution No. 3 of 2019 to regulate the testing of autonomous vehicles. Its purpose is to ensure that autonomous vehicle technology is safe for use by individuals. (Executive Council Resolution No. (3) of 2019, art. 2.)
The resolution identifies the functions of the RTA in supervising autonomous vehicle testing. (Art. 3.) It requires the presence of the Dubai Police Force and an ambulance during all road tests of autonomous vehicles. (Art. 4.) It also requires a human to be in the driver’s seat during the tests. The driver must be familiar with the autonomous vehicle’s system and operations. (Art. 7.)
Companies contracted to conduct testing of autonomous vehicles must insure each vehicle and its driver against accidents and civil liability under a comprehensive insurance policy. This policy must be valid throughout the road test period and must be issued by an insurance company licensed to operate in the emirate of Dubai. (Art. 9.) If any of the contracting companies do not meet this requirement, the RTA has the power to revoke their authorization to test autonomous vehicles. (Art. 10.)
Administrative Decree No. 501 of 2020
In August 2020, the RTA issued Administrative Decree No. 501 of 2020 on conditions, procedures, and rules related to conducting autonomous vehicle testing in Dubai. The decree requires any companies interested in conducting tests of their autonomous vehicles in Dubai to submit an application to the RTA, including the technical specifications of the vehicle in question. They must also provide the resume of the driver who will be inside the vehicle during the road tests. (Art. 2(e).) Autonomous vehicle manufacturers must submit their vehicles for inspection by RTA personnel before any tests are conducted. (Art. 4(9).)
If an autonomous vehicle manufacturer’s application meets all RTA requirements, the RTA issues an authorization to test the vehicle. The authorization includes the following information:
- The company’s name.
- A description of the autonomous vehicle.
- The name of the driver.
- The place, duration, and timing of the test. (Art. 6(3).)
Autonomous vehicle manufacturers must submit periodic reports containing all information related to the following:
- The test stages already completed.
- The performance outcomes of each stage.
- The number of trips made by the vehicle.
- How far the vehicle has traveled. (Art. 8(4).)
The human in the driver’s seat during the testing of the autonomous vehicle must not be under 25 years of age. (Art. 9(3).) This person also must have a current UAE driver’s license. (Art. 9(1).)