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GM-Backed Cruise Will Deploy Self-Driving Taxis in Dubai in 2023

By John Rosevear - Updated Apr 12, 2021 at 10:50AM

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The deal, announced this morning, gives Cruise exclusive rights to operate in Dubai until 2029.

Cruise, the San Francisco-based self-driving vehicle company controlled by General Motors (GM 1.35%), has signed a deal to bring autonomous taxis to Dubai in 2023.

The deal between Cruise and the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), announced at an event in the United Arab Emirates city on Monday morning, designates Cruise as the exclusive provider for self-driving taxis and ride-hailing services through 2029. 

Dubai officials said that the decision to award the deal to Cruise was made after an extensive review. 

"The selection of Cruise was not taken lightly," said RTA director-general Mattar Mohammed Al Tayer. "We engaged in a comprehensive, multi-year process to choose the best possible partner."

Mattar Al Tayer said that the advanced state of Cruise's technology, its partnerships with GM and Honda (HMC 0.25%), and its emphasis on safety were key factors in the RTA's decision.

A Cruise Origin, a self-driving minivan, on a highway near Dubai.

A Cruise autonomous taxi on a highway near Dubai. Cruise will bring its GM-built Origin self-driving taxis to the city in 2023. Image source: Cruise.

Cruise will deploy a limited number of its Origin autonomous passenger vans in Dubai in 2023, ramping up service over time with the goal of having 4,000 Cruise self-driving taxis in operation in the city by 2030. The deployment will be Cruise's first operation outside the United States.

It will establish a Dubai-based subsidiary that will be fully responsible for the deployment, operation, and maintenance of the fleet, the company said.

GM and Cruise executives have said previously that the company will launch its autonomous taxi service in San Francisco before expanding elsewhere. The company has not yet set a date for that launch, saying only that it will happen when it deems its software sufficiently safe.

GM plans to begin building the Cruise Origin in a factory in Michigan in 2022. 

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