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.
Waymo’s service is expected to launch sometime in 2018, while General Motors hopes to commercialize its self-driving cars in 2019.