Select districts of Frisco, Texas, will be able to make use of free, on-demand AVs from July of this year when the California-based self-driving car company Drive.ai begins the deployment of a number of Level 4 autonomous driverless vehicles in the city.
The AVs will operate for six months within a geofenced area of the city and can be hailed to fixed pick-up and drop-off locations using a smartphone application. Drive.ai estimates that during the six-month pilot, the service will offer rides to 10,000 people.
This pilot program is a model for the deployment of self-driving vehicles in a public setting. Drive.ai’s self-driving on-demand service will be operated in conjunction with Frisco TMA, a public-private partnership dedicated to bringing innovative last-mile transportation options to the growing population of Frisco.
An important step toward making an initiative like this work is to make sure residents and potential users are well-informed. Leading up to the July launch date, local office employees and residents are therefore gradually introduced to the programme, gaining access to the ride hailing app.
In addition, informational signage will be placed throughout the route, the vehicles will be painted a highly-visible orange and they will feature four external screens that communicate the vehicles’ intended actions to pedestrians and other road users.
“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 ready to work with governments and businesses to solve their transportation needs. Working with the City of Frisco and Frisco TMA, this pilot program will take people to the places they want to go and transform the way they experience transportation.”
Drive.ai is a self-driving vehicle company founded in 2015 by graduate students of Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence Lab. Since then, it has grown to an enterprise with over 100 employees that uses deep learning to develop an integrated software and hardware solution that is intended to be scalable and adaptable to a variety of vehicles and environments.
By Ilya Verpraet