Will Tesla cars in Dubai be on autopilot in 2017?

RTA says the emirate is working on a new law for fully autonomous cars

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, July 11, 2017

American automaker Tesla is likely to enable its autonomous driving feature for its cars in Dubai by the end of the year, according to a government official.

Although the company will open its first Middle East showroom in Dubai on Wednesday, Tesla chief executive officer Elon Musk is not likely to attend the event.

“As far as we know, the carmaker has said that the autopilot driving feature will be activated for its cars in Dubai before year-end,” Ahmed Bahrozyan, chief executive officer, Road and Transport Authority (RTA) Licensing Agency, and chairman of the smart vehicles committee, told Arabian Business.

He said Dubai will commence work on framing a legislation for autonomous cars, making the city ready to adopt new technologies.

The legislation will have two parts -- one dealing with the trial of autonomous vehicles having a driver, and the other will be fully autonomous.

“So from our view the former is easier from the legislation point of view as you already have Tesla and Mercedes-Benz E cars with such autonomous features. The difference is that you are sitting in the driver’s seat and you are responsible for any accidents. This is totally acceptable as there is no issues from insurance, responsibly and liability perspective.

“Where it becomes more complicated and that’s where the legislation has to take a little bit more time is with the concept of fully autonomous cars without steering. We will work on it starting from this year and hope by next year we will have some kind of progress in that regard,” Bahrozyan said.

According to Tesla, all vehicles produced in its factory, including Model 3, will have the hardware needed for full self-driving capability at a safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver.

In Dubai, prices for Model S and Model X start from $74,800 (AED275,000) and $93,600 (AED344,000), respectively.

Arabian Business has approached Tesla for a comment.

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