In a groundbreaking development, WeRide, a Chinese autonomous vehicle company, has been granted the first-ever national self-driving vehicle license in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This momentous achievement allows WeRide to conduct comprehensive testing of its autonomous vehicles across the entire country. The announcement was made by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the vice president of the UAE and the ruler of Dubai, the nation’s thriving metropolis. Notably, this national-level license represents a significant milestone not only for WeRide but for the global autonomous vehicle industry as a whole.
With the newly acquired national license, WeRide is now primed to focus on testing its Level 4 autonomous vehicles. These advanced vehicles are equipped with the capability to assume complete control of driving tasks, while still retaining traditional features such as a steering wheel and pedals to enable human intervention if required. This combination of cutting-edge technology and human involvement ensures a safe and adaptable approach to autonomous driving.
The decision to grant WeRide a national license reflects the UAE’s unwavering commitment to spearheading technological advancements within its borders. Dubai, in particular, has set an ambitious target to make 25 percent of its transportation network autonomous by 2030. This bold vision demonstrates the UAE’s proactive stance in embracing and nurturing autonomous driving technology to enhance efficiency, safety, and sustainability in their transportation ecosystem.
While WeRide’s national license is a pioneering achievement, it is important to acknowledge that various companies worldwide have conducted autonomous vehicle testing on public roads. WeRide, along with Cruise, a subsidiary of General Motors, has already undertaken self-driving vehicle trials in the UAE, albeit within certain limitations and controlled environments.
WeRide commenced its autonomous vehicle testing journey in the UAE by deploying robotaxis on designated public roads in the previous year. In early 2023, a local company named TXAI provided interested passengers with complimentary rides in robotaxis powered by WeRide on Yas Island, situated off the coast of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE. Furthermore, WeRide expanded its testing efforts to include autonomous buses in neighboring Saudi Arabia as early as September 2022, showcasing the company’s commitment to advancing autonomous mobility solutions in the region.
The issuance of the national self-driving vehicle license to WeRide not only enables the company to continue its testing activities but also serves as a testament to the UAE’s dedication to fostering innovation and technological progress within the autonomous driving sector. As WeRide’s partnership with the UAE strengthens, it holds immense potential to accelerate advancements in autonomous vehicle technology and pave the way for a future where self-driving vehicles become a mainstream mode of transportation, offering a host of benefits such as improved road safety, enhanced mobility, and reduced environmental impact.