Texans ride robots
Museum town first to pilot Drive.ai’s autonomous vehicles
FRISCO is a town in the state of Texas known for its Heritage Museum that displays vintage cars and railroad memorabilia.
Soon, cars with actual steering wheels may join the museum’s exhibitions, as the town is now piloting autonomous drives using vehicles from startup Drive.ai.
California-based Drive.ai said in a statement it has teamed up with the Frisco Transportation Management Association (TMA) to carry out the trials in the city, which is home to just over 160 000 people.
The trials will take place within a defined area that includes shops, offices and bars and restaurants, with fixed pick-up and drop-off locations near each.
Drive.ai said this will be the first time the public in the state of Texas will have an ondemand self-driving car service at their disposal, and the pilot is among the first of its kind in the country.
New Atlas reports other self-driving car trials already under way in the U.S. include pilots from Ford, Waymo and Uber, (though the latter’s remains on hold following a fatal accident in March).
Drive.ai’s pilot is designed as a model for the use of selfdriving vehicles in public.
Users will be able to hail a ride on the company’s smartphone app and travel in the self-driving cars between popular destinations throughout the city.
Leading up to the launch in July, the company will work with local authorities to educate the public about the programme, including early familiarisation with the smartphone app.
It will also be placing signage along the routes, while the cars themselves are painted bright orange and will be fitted with four external screens that display the vehicle’s intentions.
“Self-driving cars are here, and can improve the way we live right now,” Sameep Tandon, co-founder and CEO of Drive.ai, said in a statement.
“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 programme will take people to the places they want to go and transform the way they experience transportation.”
As they say in Texas, ‘purty it ain’t’, but this wagon festooned with public display screens will soon give people in the small town of Frisco autonomous lifts.