Self-driving, artificial intelligence startup Drive.ai is now operating a fleet of autonomous Nissan NV200 vans in Texas.
Setting base in the tiny town of Frisco, with cooperation from Frisco TMA, the cheerful, bright orange Drive.ai vans will serve a two-mile route in the city with designated drop off and pick up locations, with users hailing rides via an app.
Service will operate for six months, operated by a team of remote operators and human safety drivers.
"By choosing geofenced regions and working with partners, we can take advantage of self-driving cars' strengths while diminishing their weaknesses," said Andrew Ng, a Drive.ai's board member.
While rides are in progress, an onboard touchscreen will display navigation Drive.ai's own using LiDar, radar, and GPS data. Over time, the plan is to remove human safety drivers and rely solely on remote operators.
One of the reasons why Frisco, Texas was selected as a testing ground is its friendly testing policies, under a Sept. 2017 law that allows autonomous vehicles to operate without much restriction from local governments. Additionally, the town has set up working groups to help improve walkways and bike lanes, working towards new merging mobility solutions in the region.