A new deal has just been signed.
What began with a heavily modified Chevrolet Bolt, and later a fleet of them, has turned into something else entirely. GM's Cruise autonomous driving unit revealed the Cruise Origin in January of last year with the promise of providing an emissions-free and driverless transportation future. San Francisco, California is the first city where the Cruise will go online and now another major city has signed up for the project. Only this city is not in the US.
Cruise and the Road and Transit Authority of Dubai have just signed an agreement that will see these robotaxis come to one of the world's most popular tourist destinations beginning in 2023 (fun fact: it was established as a fishing village in the 18th century).
This marks the first time the Origin robotaxi will be used outside of the US, though San Francisco will still be the first city to see them go online. By 2030, Cruise and Dubai aim to have 4,000 self-driving taxis operating within the city. Part of the agreement makes Cruise Dubai's exclusive robotaxi provider until 2029.
"This agreement, which is the first of its kind worldwide between a government entity and a leading developer of autonomous vehicles, and autonomous vehicle technology, is a major step towards realizing Dubai's Self-Driving Transport Strategy aimed at converting 25 percent of total trips in Dubai into self-driving transport trips across different modes of transport by 2030," said His Highness Sheikh Hamdan.
Although testing is still underway, Cruise is confident that its robotaxis are capable of improving highway safety given that over 90 percent of accidents are caused by human error. Cruise's Dubai announcement made no mention of when the service will get underway in San Francisco, but it's expected to start within the next year or two.
Making this happen while also ensuring maximum safety is critical because Cruise has some competition, mainly from Waymo. It's currently testing modified Chrysler Pacifica minivans in California as well, but has yet to announce a major deal with a city outside of the US. It's only a matter of time until it does.