- Drive.ai announced that it will run on-street autonomous rides in Arlington, TX for a year, starting in October.
- According to a release from the city, three of Drive.ai’s three-passenger self-driving vans will be available in the city’s entertainment district, serving the parking lots for major stadiums and the "day-to-day mobility needs for residents." The vans will travel in a geo-fenced area at up to 35 miles per hour, with safety operators on board during the initial phase.
- The initial cost — $434,952 — will be partially covered by a federal grant, and the pilot could expand to five vehicles if agreed upon by the city.
Drive.ai is quickly expanding through the Lone Star state. The Arlington announcement comes less than a month after the shuttle service launched a six-month pilot in the Dallas suburb of Frisco. The California-based company runs bright orange vans that also have four LED screens to communicate to drivers and pedestrians what the shuttles are doing, displaying four messages: “Waiting” and “Crossing” when stopped at a crosswalk; “Going” when moving; “Entering/Exiting” when a person is getting in or out of the car; and “Human Driver” when in manual mode. The screens are meant to get people more comfortable with driverless cars on the streets by telegraphing exactly what they’re doing.
The quick expansion shows that driverless shuttles are becoming an attractive option for cities looking to get in on the game. The Drive.ai tests move in a predetermined area along a predictable route, at low speeds and with multiple passengers at a time. Cities like Detroit; Austin, TX; Las Vegas and others have also been running tests of autonomous shuttles, moving people around downtown areas and getting them familiar with driverless technology, as well as offering a new transit model.
Arlington is pitching itself as a hub for new transportation ventures; it just wrapped up a separate autonomous shuttle program called Milo this month after running to more than 100 events over a year. The city was also approved an on-demand public transit/ride-share hybrid known as Via, and is working with Marble to prepare for an autonomous robotic delivery service.