Drive.ai self-driving car service starting in TexasEnlarge Photo
Citizens of Frisco, Texas, the self-driving cars have arrived. Drive.ai plans to launch a self-driving car ride-hailing service in the Dallas suburb this July in a limited geo-fenced area. The company follows Waymo's announcement that it will operate a self-driving taxi service in a 100 square-mile area of Phoneix, Arizona.
Drive.ai said in its Monday announcement that the vehicles will solve "last-mile" situations—distances that are too far to walk, but close enough to drive to. Many of the areas where the self-driving vehicles will operate normally have limited parking, too. Members will be able to call up a self-driving vehicle via a smartphone app and travel on public roads between HALL Park offices and The Star.
When the vehicle arrives, a safety driver will remain in the driver's seat. Eventually, Drive.ai wants to replace the driver with a chaperone of sorts to educate riders on the technology. Ultimately, the company will remove any safety driver or chaperone when deemed necessary. Drive.ai also said the self-driving cars will be connected to its own "tele-choice" system, which will allow riders to call for assistance.
The company has done its best to foster a safe environment for pedestrians and riders, too. The self-driving car industry took a collective pause after an Uber self-driving vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian last March. Drive.ai highlighted the fact that its self-driving cars are clearly marked and feature signage to help convey what the vehicle is doing. For example, a screen shows that the car is waiting for pedestrians to cross before continuing.
Drive.ai calls its service a true rollout of Level 4 self-driving cars, which is a "highly automated" car on the autonomy scale. The scale tops out at Level 5, or full automation.