Texans Can Ride Free in Test of Autonomous Drive.ai
Coming this summer to Frisco, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, a pilot program will allow people to summon a ride for free using a Drive.ai.com app. Yep Pardner, no charge for certain rides in certain areas.
The pilot program, which will kick off in July 2018, will run for six months and be limited to a specific geographic zone in Frisco that has a concentration of retail, entertainment venues and office space. The program will begin with fixed pick-up and drop-off locations around Hall Park and The Star and then will expand into Frisco Station.
The self-driving on-demand service will be operated in conjunction with Frisco TMA, a public-private partnership focused on “last-mile” transportation options. To avoid confusion, Drive.ai has outfitted these self-driving vans with a bright orange paint job and four external screens that communicate the vehicles’ intended actions to pedestrians and other drivers on the roads. Signs will be posted along the planned route.
At first the vans will have a safety driver behind the wheel; in the next phase, they will move the safety driver to the passenger seat, who will explain autonomous vehicles to the passengers. Finally, there will be no driver in the car.
The company, Drive.ai was founded by former grad students working at a Stanford lab run by Andrew Ng. The AI genius formerly of Baidu, Ng is chairman of Drive.ai. After the bad press that driverless vehicles have had lately, Drive.ai believes it must produce a successful test run of its vans and thus have made it as easy and appealing as possible.
Drive.ai, an autonomous vehicle startup, is launching a pilot program in a busy commercial sector of Frisco that will let people hail self-driving vehicles for free using a smartphone app. Drive.ai stands out in a sea of autonomous vehicle startups for its application of deep neural networks in self-driving cars.
Here is map of the Frisco business area being served by Drive.ai, this summer.