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Drive.ai Launching Autonomous Ride-Hailing Service in Texas

Drive.ai Launching Autonomous Ride-Hailing Service in Texas

Author: Eric Walz   

FRISCO, Texas – Silicon Valley-based self-driving car startup Drive.ai has announced a pilot program to bring an on-demand self-driving car service to Frisco, Texas this summer.

Drive AI, in cooperation with the Frisco Transportation Management Association (TMA), will offer rides to over 10,000 people in self-driving vehicles within a geofenced area comprised of retail, entertainment, and office space throughout the city.

The initial pilot will run for six months, beginning with fixed pickup and drop-off locations. The pilot is the first time members of the public will have access to an on-demand self-driving car service on public roads in Texas.  

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, Texas. The Frisco TMA includes the City of Frisco, HALL Group, Frisco Station Partners, The Star, and the Denton County Transportation Authority, which will administer the program.  

Residents of Frisco will have access to Drive.ai's ride-hailing smartphone app. Once the program is live, riders can use the app to summon free on-demand rides in self-driving vehicles that connect to popular destinations in Frisco.

"Frisco is recognized as a leader in using ‘smart,' innovative traffic technologies," said Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney. "Drive.ai's autonomous vehicles will help people get around one of our most vibrant, commercial areas along Frisco's ‘North Platinum Corridor.' We applaud the collaboration 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 this pioneering pilot program. Today definitely marks a mobility milestone for our entire region. It also gets us closer to achieving one of our council's ‘Top Ten' goals, which is to improve traffic throughout Frisco, one of the fastest growing cities in the country."  

Drive.ai is dedicated to partnering with cities and transit authorities to safely deploy self-driving technologies in a scalable, measured way. Leading up to the July launch, Drive.ai will work with its partners to engage with members of the Frisco community, ensuring they are educated about and comfortable with the self-driving program. This is an important step, as autonomous technology is under heavy scrutiny after a fatality involving a self-driving Uber vehicle in Arizona in March.

The self-driving vehicles will be easy for pedestrians and other drivers to spot, as they will be painted a bright orange for enhanced visibility. In addition, the vehicles will be outfitted with four external displays that communicate the vehicles' intended actions to pedestrians and other road users. The displays will alert nearby pedestrians of the car's actions, such as "waiting for you to cross the street" and "passengers entering or exiting the vehicle".

HRI Screen Waiting For You To Cross (2).jpg

Drive ai's vehicles display messages to nearby pedestrians

"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 was founded in 2015 by graduate students out of Stanford University's Artificial Intelligence Lab, The company has offices in Mountain View, California and Frisco, Texas. The company is developing AI software for autonomous vehicles using deep-learning, which they believe is the key to the future of transportation.  

Drive ai is joining Waymo as one of the first autonomous ride-hailing operators picking up passengers. Waymo is testing a driverless ride-hailing service in Chandler, Arizona and plans to remove its safety drivers by the end of this year. Drive.ai is taking a more cautious approach. For the time being, the cars in the pilot program will have a backup safety driver to monitor the car at all times.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally from New Jersey, Eric is an automotive and technology reporter specializing in the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley. Eric has over fifteen years of automotive experience and a B.A. in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the automotive industry and beyond. He has worked on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology. Outside of work, Eric likes to travel to new places, play guitar, and explore the outdoors.
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