California-based self-driving car company, Drive.ai has announced a pilot program to bring the first on-demand automated vehicle transportation service in Texas, with autonomous operations due to start in the City of Frisco in July.
Working in cooperation with the Frisco Transportation Management Association (TMA), Drive.ai will offer rides to over 10,000 people in self-driving vehicles within a geofenced area comprised of retail, entertainment, and office sites. The initial pilot will run for six months, beginning with fixed pick-up and drop-off locations around HALL Park and The Star, and with planned expansion into Frisco Station. The program is a milestone for Texas, marking the first time that members of the public will have access to an on-demand automated vehicle service on public roads in the state.
This pilot program is a model for the deployment of self-driving vehicles in a public setting, one of the first of its kind in the USA, and a major step forward for the connected and autonomous vehicle industry. Drive.ai’s self-driving on-demand service will be operated in conjunction with Frisco TMA, a public-private partnership dedicated to bringing innovative first-mile/last-mile transportation options to the city’s growing population. 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.
Leading up to the July launch date, office employees, residents and patrons of the partnership’s developments will gradually come aboard the program, gaining access to Drive.ai’s ride-hailing smartphone application. Once the program is live, riders will use the app to hail complimentary on-demand rides in self-driving vehicles that connect to popular destinations in one of Frisco’s most lively rapidly-expanding areas. Pre-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. 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 drivers on the roads.
“Frisco is recognized as a leader in using ‘smart’, innovative traffic technologies,” said the city’s 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.
“This 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.”
Sameep Tandon, co-founder and CEO of Drive.ai, commented, “Self-driving cars are here, and can improve the way we live right now. 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.”