The city of Frisco, Texas, is getting a cutting-edge self-driving car service. Starting in July, a Drive.ai fleet of vehicles will operate with fixed pick-up and drop-off locations in a geofenced area of the city comprising retail, entertainment, and office space. The plan is to provide locals with more than 10,000 free rides, which they can book through Drive.ai’s ride-hailing smartphone app.
The six-month pilot project announced today is a collaboration between Andrew Ng’s Drive.ai and the Frisco Transportation Management Association (TMA). Founded in 2015 by members of Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence Lab., Drive.ai is dedicated to “building the brain of self‑driving vehicles.” Frisco is a fast-growing community in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.
In the lead-up to the launch, the service area will be readied with special signage and other support infrastructure. The Level 4 vehicles will be a distinct orange, and feature four external screens designed to communicate vehicles’ intended actions to pedestrians and other drivers. For example, at a stop sign the driver’s eye contact with a pedestrian will be simulated by displaying the message “Waiting for you to cross.”
“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.”
“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.”
UPDATE: Demo Video Now Available
Drive.ai today released video footage of its self-driving ride demo in Frisco, TX last week. This video shows the technical capabilities of the self-driving system without a safety driver at the wheel, although safety drivers will be used in the upcoming self-driving service as a precaution.
Check out the YouTube video of the demo ride below.
Here are four moments worth noting:
- 0:37 As the car proceeds to drive on public roads by crossing a 6-lane intersection, Drive.ai’s system scans far in both directions to understand what is happening and how to proceed.
- 1:19 A cyclist does a double-take on seeing no one in the driver’s seat, yet still offers a friendly wave!
- 1:53 The vehicle encounters a roundabout, which often requires the car to negotiate traffic merging from multiple points.
- 3:11 Low-angle sunlight can make it difficult to see. Drive.ai’s system fuses inputs from multiple sensors to ensure accurate detection and tracking.
Journalist: Tony Peng| Editor: Michael Sarazen