Self-driving cars will soon be on the UAE’s roads after the government approved a license for the company WeRide.
The China-based firm will be able to test its vehicles in the country following an announcement by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai.
WeRide already has a presence in the country, as in 2022 it provided key software and hardware for the phase 1 trial of a self-driving taxi service in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.
Announcing the granting of the license on Twitter, Al-Maktoum said: “Today, in the Council of Ministers, we approved the national policy for electric vehicles, which includes building a national network for electric vehicle chargers, regulating the electric vehicle market,and stimulating related industries to ensure reduced emissions, energy consumption, and the preservation of the quality of roads that the UAE enjoys.
“We also approved today, within the Council of Ministers, the first national license for self-driving vehicles on the country’s roads, which was granted to the specialised WeRide company.”
According to the WeRide website, the firm has achieved commercialization of five major products, and conducted autonomous driving tests and operations in 25 cities across five countries.
It has a fleet of more than 500 autonomous vehicles, and has accumulated 16 million km of driving mileage among them.
Robobuses have been tested and operated by the company in 18 domestic and foreign cities, including Riyadh, as in September 2022 the WeRice teamed up with Saudi Company for Artificial Intelligence to launch one of the vehicles at the Global AI Summit, in what was the first test of such a vehicle in the Middle East.
Self-driving cars are set to play a key role in the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia’s giga-project NEOM relying heavily on the technology as it seeks to create a sustainable mobility ecosystem, while aiming for zero carbon emissions and 100 percent renewable energy.
In April, the Kingdom’s Ministry of Transport and Logistic Services launched a trial of self-driving electric cars as part of the government’s efforts to support and develop progressive transportation systems in the Kingdom.
The ministry’s experimentation falls in line with the objectives of the National Transport and Logistics Strategy, which aims to position the Kingdom among the most advanced countries in terms of road quality and safety.