The slogan of Arlington, Texas is “American Dream City,” and as residents start their commute this morning some may wonder if they are in fact dreaming. A fleet of futuristic autonomous vehicles today began chauffeuring Arlingtonites along city streets in self-driving startup Drive.ai’s latest public road testing project.
The Drive.ai vehicles are available to all and operating in specially prepared geo-fenced areas of the city, linking office buildings, event venues, hotels, public amenities and retail and dining establishments. The service follows on a project Drive.ai. launched four months ago in Frisco, a city about 40 miles (66 km) north of Arlington.
Said Drive.ai CEO Bijit Halder: “Our partnership with the City of Arlington is a testament to Drive.ai’s ability to develop not only cutting edge AI technology, but also self-driving services that solve the most pressing transportation problems facing communities today. As we continue to scale our deployments, we are committed to closely collaborating with governments, local authorities, and other organizations so that we can put forth self-driving programs that make a real and positive impact on people’s daily lives.”
Arlington residents and visitors alike can catch a ride by simply going to a Drive.ai pickup point in the geofenced service area, or they can hail a vehicle to their own location using the Drive.ai smartphone app. The distinctive orange vehicles are modified Nissan minivans equipped with LiDar, radar and cameras, and travel at speeds up to 35 mph (56 kph). The project will be showcased later this month when Arlington hosts the Texas Mobility Summit, and is scheduled to last one year.
Mayor Jeff Williams welcomed the program: “Partnering with Drive.ai on this groundbreaking program allows us to provide our residents and millions of visitors who come to our great city each year with a transportation option around our Entertainment District that is safe, convenient, and easy to use. As a city that strongly values innovation, Arlington welcomes the opportunity to embrace the future of self-driving vehicles and share that future with as many people as possible.”
Drive.ai was founded in 2015 by Andrew Ng of Stanford University’s AI Lab.
Editor: Michael Sarazen