China’s WeRide has obtained a license from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for their self-driving vehicles

WeRide has obtained a license from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for their self-driving vehicles

Chinese autonomous driving company WeRide has obtained the first national license for self-driving vehicles in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This license permits WeRide to conduct Level 4 autonomous vehicle testing on public roads throughout the country. Level 4 autonomy means that the vehicle can operate without human intervention in certain conditions. The issuance of this license aligns with UAE ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s objective of achieving 25% fully autonomous transportation in the country by 2030.

Additionally, the UAE’s Council of Ministers has approved WeRide’s permit alongside a national policy for electric vehicles (EVs). This policy includes the development of a nationwide charging network, regulation of the EV market, and support for related industries such as autonomous vehicles (AVs) to reduce emissions and enhance road infrastructure.

Dubai, the UAE’s most populous city, has been a hub for various driverless vehicle trials. The Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) organized the World Conference on Self-Driving Transport in 2019 to bring industry leaders together. This year’s conference, scheduled for September, features a competition where companies and academic institutions will showcase their autonomous bus solutions.

The RTA aims to limit the number of vehicles on Dubai’s roads and expand robotaxi operations to 4,000 vehicles by 2030. Cruise, a subsidiary of General Motors based in San Francisco, has been testing and developing robotaxis in Dubai. Cruise has been mapping the city since July 2022 and plans to deploy its purpose-built robotaxi, Cruise Origins, in Dubai this year.

WeRide intends to test various types of self-driving vehicles in the UAE and aims to commercialize its autonomous technology for robotaxis, robobuses, robovans, and autonomous street sweepers. The company has been testing robotaxis on certain public roads in the UAE over the past year and established a presence in the China-UAE Industrial Capacity Cooperation Demonstration Zone.

WeRide has also expressed interest in expanding to Saudi Arabia, announcing plans to collaborate with the Saudi Artificial Intelligence Company to launch a robobus route in the country.

The specific regulatory requirements for testing, deployment, and commercialization of autonomous vehicles in the UAE are not yet clear. The testing process will be overseen by the RegLab, an initiative by the General Secretariat of the Cabinet. However, further details regarding regulations have not been provided by the organization or the RTA.

In contrast, the United States and China, where most autonomous vehicle testing occurs, have more decentralized regulatory approaches led by local governments. For example, California and Arizona have seen significant AV testing and commercialization, each with their own distinct regulatory processes. WeRide currently holds permits from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to test AVs with and without human safety drivers. In Arizona, companies are required to self-certify that their vehicles can safely come to a stop in case of a system malfunction.