Texas is no stranger to self-driving car tests, but actual service? Not yet, although it's just around the corner. AI startup Drive.ai is launching the state's first autonomous ride-hailing service in Frisco this July in a pilot program with support from both the city and the Hall Group. This isn't a city-wide service. Instead, the company's vans will drive on public roads between Hall Park offices and The Star to help workers get to dining and shopping that's too far to walk, but a waste to drive.
Rides will be free during the six-month test period. There will initially be a safety driver ready to take over. The ultimate goals, however, are to make the service available to everyone in Frisco and to phase out human accompaniment. The vans themselves should offer some assistance: signs around the cars will indicate the vehicle's intentions (like picking up passengers or waiting for a pedestrian to cross).
This isn't the go-anywhere service you might like. However, it's a big step forward for Drive.ai, which has yet to launch its Lyft partnership in San Francisco. It also reflects a gradual transition for self-driving technology from closed off testing to real-world services, even if those services tend to be very limited.