Drive.ai Launches Autonomous Test Fleet in Texas

Mountain View, Calif.–based startup Drive.ai is launching an autonomous vehicle pilot program on public roads in Frisco, Tex.

Due to start in July, the six-month program will allow city residents and workers to catch a ride to and from fixed pickup and drop-off locations for free. The high-traffic geofenced area contains a mix of retail shops, entertainment, office space and public housing.
 

The program will use Nissan NV200 vans equipped with drive.ai’s sensor and control technology. Message boards mounted on the van will display digital messages, such as “Waiting for you to cross,” “pulling over” and “passengers entering.”

Initially, a backup driver will be onboard to take control of the vehicle as needed. Drive.ai says the next step would be to replace the safety driver with a “chaperone” to answer passenger questions, while the company monitors the vehicle remotely.

Drive.ai, which was formed in 2015 by several Stanford University researchers, specializes in artificial intelligence systems for self-driving cars. The company’s board of directors includes former Vice Chairman General Motors Co. Steve Girsky and AI expert Andrew Ng, who led the Google Brain project and now is Baidu Inc.’s chief scientist.