California-based Drive.ai is set to start up a new arm of its pilot program for a self-driving vehicle service in Frisco, Texas this July. For clarification, this is the same Drive.ai which launched a similar program in partnership with Lyft in San Francisco late last year. The pilot program is set to run for six months, as of this writing. Initially, be set up to transport to and from designated locations in HALL Park and the sports and entertainment district The Star with designated routes. If all goes as planned, Frisco Station will be added at an unspecified date, with the ultimate goal being to create a mode of "last-mile" transportation within the area.
As alluded to above, geofencing will be used to keep the vehicles within select operation zones for the duration of the public testing. Those will be painted in a high-visibility orange to help residents and visitors to the test districts distinguish the A.I.-driven vehicles from others on the road. Beyond that, the exterior of the test cars will feature four displays which are intended to communicate the vehicles' actions in advance. That will allow other drivers and pedestrians to see what the vehicle plans to do before it does it. Safety is obviously going to be a big concern for all parties involved, with consideration for recent high-profile accidents involving the still new technology.
Leading up to the pilot's start in July, office employees, residents, and others will gradually gain access to the associated smartphone app. That app will be used to hail a ride at the designated drop-off and pick-up sites. Local businesses will also be on-boarded gradually, allowing for more sites to be added along the geofenced routes. Rides are currently set to be free and the partners in the endeavor expect more than 10,000 people to be served throughout the duration. In the meantime, although the companies have partnered before, Lyft doesn't appear to be involved with this new test of Drive.ai's autonomous vehicle technology. Instead, this is a more direct collaborative effort between the Frisco Transportation Management Association, the Denton County Transportation Authority, the City of Frisco, and Drive.ai.