Tex­ans ride robots

Mu­seum town first to pi­lot Drive.ai’s au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - AL­WYN VILJOEN • al­wyn.viljoen@witness.co.za

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.”

PHOTO: DRIVE.AI

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.

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