An expansive new self-driving car service is set to roll into Texas, with the city of Frisco to play host to a new pilot from autonomous vehicle startup Drive.ai. The trials will be setup to explore the practicalities of self-driving cars in public spaces, with more than 10,000 rides to be offered over a six-month period.
California-based Drive.ai has teamed up with the Frisco Transportation Management Association (TMA) to carry out the trials in the city, which is home to just over 160,000 people. It will take place within a geofenced area that is home to retail, office and entertainment spaces, with fixed pickup and drop-off locations to be scattered throughout.
According to Drive.ai, this will be the first time the public in the state of Texas will have an on-demand self-driving car service at their disposal, and the pilot is among the first of its kind in the country. Other self-driving car trials already underway in the US include pilots from Ford, Waymo and Uber, (though the latter's remains on hold following a fatal accident in March).
Drive.ai's pilot is designed as a model for the use of self-driving vehicles in public. Users will be able to hail a ride on the company's smartphone app and travel in the self-driving cars between popular destinations throughout the city. Leading up the beginning in July, the company will work with local authorities to educate the public about the program, including early familiarization with the smartphone app. It will also be placing signage along the routes, while the cars themselves are painted bright orange and will be fitted with four external screens that display the vehicle's intentions.
"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."
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