The Dubai government has purchased 200 of Tesla's self-driving vehicles. This was done in a bid to launch self-driving taxis on Dubai roads by 2020.
Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) will test out the cars to see if it would be feasible to launch them as taxis in the future.
How Will The Cars Be Operated?
The 200 vehicles, which consist of both the Model S sedans and the Model X SUVs from Tesla, will be tested in the "autopilot" mode, which currently requires a human driver to be present.
However, it is believed that the hardware, which would be required to allow complete self-driving functionality in the future, is also included in the cars.
The modified version of Tesla will be equipped with the hardware that has the capability of full automated driving and will allow passengers to select the destination where they wish to head to.
Initiative Taken By The Authorities
The government intends to make Dubai the smartest city by 2020 per reports.
"It is also part of the Dubai Smart Autonomous Mobility Strategy aimed at transforming 25 per cent of total journeys in Dubai into autonomous journeys by 2030," stated Mattar Al Tayer, the Director General of RTA to Gulf News.
The government of United Arab Emirates (UAE) started buying the taxis the day after Tesla announced that the company's vehicles would be available in Middle Eastern markets as well.
Tesla's CEO Elon Musk signed the deal with the RTA during a summit in Dubai. Musk also announced during the event that Tesla would open its first office in the country soon.
Tesla's Previous Announcement
In October 2016, Tesla announced that all the future models of the vehicles will be equipped with hardware that would be upgradable to support self-driving functionality.
The company also announced that it will be having an updated version of the autopilot capability soon.
The dream of self-driving cars seems to be turning into reality. However, it looks like Dubai may have snatched the latest technology from Tesla.
It remains to be seen how soon these autonomous taxis are launched on the roads. For now, a human operator needs to be present but a fully self-operated car could soon become available in the markets as well.
Check out the video below which showcases how the Tesla vehicles will work on the roads, as well as how passengers will be able to interact with the car itself.
Photo: Don Mccullough | Flickr