Not only is everything bigger in Texas, but soon, things could be easier, too. At least, that seems to be the hope of California-based autonomous car company Drive.ai, who today, May 8, launched an on-demand self-driving service in Frisco, Texas. Beginning in July, Drive.ai and the Frisco Transportation Management Association (TMA) will offer rides to more than 10,000 people in self-driving vehicles. The best part? They’ll be free.
To ensure safety, these rides will take place only in a geofenced region that features retail, entertainment, and office space. For six months, this initial pilot will run with fixed pickup and drop-off locations, serving as a sort of self-driving shuttle service. This marks the first time that Texans will be able to access on-demand autonomous vehicles on public roadways.
While Waymo and Uber have claimed many early headlines around self-driving tests, Drive.ai has been hard at work on its own solutions for quite some time as well. And with this new public-private partnership, the California startup could be one step closer to placing autonomous automobiles on roads across America. In the weeks leading up to the July launch date, eligible Frisco residents are to be on-boarded into the program, and will be granted access to Drive.ai’s ride-hailing smartphone app. Once the program goes live, the app can be used to call complimentary on-demand rides.
“Frisco is recognized as a leader in using ‘smart,’ innovative traffic technologies,” said FriscoMayor Jeff Cheney. “Drive.ai’s autonomous vehicles will help people get around one of our mostvibrant, commercial areas along Frisco’s ‘North Platinum Corridor.’ We applaud thecollaboration of the Denton County Transportation Authority, as well as our private partners at HALL Park, Frisco Station and The Star, which gave the green light, so to speak, to thispioneering pilot program. Today definitely marks a mobility milestone for our entire region. Italso gets us closer to achieving one of our council’s ‘Top Ten’ goals, which is to improve trafficthroughout Frisco, one of the fastest growing cities in the country.”
In an effort to make this pilot program as safe as possible, Drive.ai will also be working to educate members of the Frisco community about autonomous technology, and will be placing informational signs throughout the proposed route. All vehicles will be painted a bright orange for maximum visibility, and will have four external screens that are meant to display the vehicle’s next move to pedestrians, as well as other drivers.
“Self-driving cars are here, and can improve the way we live right now,” said Sameep Tandon,co-founder and CEO of Drive.ai. “Our technology is safe, smart, and adaptive, and we are readyto work with governments and businesses to solve their transportation needs. Working with theCity of Frisco and Frisco TMA, this pilot program will take people to the places they want to goand transform the way they experience transportation.”