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UAE Gives The Go-Ahead For Driverless Vehicles

WeRide, a China-based company, has been granted a license by the UAE government to test its self-driving cars on the country's roads. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, the vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, made the announcement. WeRide has already been involved in the country, providing software and hardware for a self-driving taxi trial in Abu Dhabi's Yas Island in 2022.

In a Twitter post, Al-Maktoum revealed that the Council of Ministers had approved a national policy for electric vehicles, which includes developing a network of charging stations, regulating the electric vehicle market, and promoting industries related to electric vehicles to reduce emissions, energy consumption, and maintain the quality of UAE's roads. He also stated that the first national license for self-driving vehicles had been granted to WeRide.

WeRide boasts a presence in 25 cities across five countries and has achieved commercialization of five major products. The company has conducted extensive autonomous driving tests and operations and has a fleet of over 500 autonomous vehicles. These vehicles have collectively traveled 16 million kilometers.

WeRide has previously tested and operated robo-buses in 18 cities, including Riyadh, where they collaborated with the Saudi Company for Artificial Intelligence to showcase one of their vehicles at the Global AI Summit in September 2022. This marked the Middle East's first test of a self-driving vehicle.

The Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia, is keen on utilizing self-driving cars as part of its plans for sustainable mobility and achieving zero carbon emissions and 100 percent renewable energy. Saudi Arabia's NEOM large scale initiative, for instance, is heavily relying on self-driving technology to build a sustainable transportation ecosystem. In line with this vision, the Ministry of Transport and Logistic Services in Saudi Arabia initiated a trial of self-driving electric cars in April to support the development of progressive transportation systems and improve road quality and safety.

Overall, the UAE's approval of WeRide's license signifies a significant step towards the integration of self-driving cars into the region's transportation landscape, aligning with the Middle East's aspirations for sustainable and advanced mobility solutions.

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