Dubai legislates for autonomous vehicles testing

Out-Law News | 25 Feb 2020 | 9:51 am | 1 min. read

Businesses will have to obtain a permit from, and into enter into a contract with, the Roads & Transport Authority (RTA) in Dubai if they wish to test autonomous vehicles in the city, under new legislation that has been introduced.

The new rules also require autonomous vehicles and their drives to be insured "against accidents and civil liability" under a comprehensive insurance policy. Establishments behind the testing are solely liable to third parties for any damage that may result from their trials, as the legislation exempts the RTA from such liability.

The legislation provides the RTA with a broad range of powers, including those that enable it to establish and approve safety standards for autonomous vehicle testing, as well as the "conditions, standards, and procedures" for those trials and the requirements drivers of the vehicles must meet.

The RTA also has the power to suspend trials, abolish permits or even annul contracts for testing where businesses fail to meet the new legal obligations.

Ahmed Hashim Bahrozyan, chief executive of Public Transport Agency and chair of the Smart and Sustainable Transport Committee at the RTA, said the legislation is designed to support the goals set out in the Dubai smart mobility strategy, which called for 25% of mobility trips in Dubai to be via self-driving transport by 2030 in an effort to reduce carbon emissions and accidents, as well as the cost of and wasted time associated with traditional transport.

While the RTA is the licensing authority, other authorities such as the Dubai police and ambulance services also have a role to play in facilitating and assessing test runs.

Bahrozyan said: "The legislation tasks RTA to monitor the compliance of the concerned parties and certify vehicles that have passed the trial run. RTA shall prepare the infrastructure and logistics of the trial run in coordination with the concerned entities. RTA is entitled to form joint teams with those entities to oversee the conducting of such trials. The legislation defines the roles of Dubai Police and Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services and entrusts them with the responsibility of coordinating with RTA, particularly in assessing the test-run of autonomous vehicles. It also calls on them to deploy traffic patrols and ambulance vehicles required for the conducting the trial run."

The legislation exempts RTA from any third-party responsibility in connection with any losses incurred as a result of the test-run of autonomous vehicles, and obliges those parties to solely assume such responsibilities,” concluded the CEO of Public Transport Agency. 

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