Drive.ai, an autonomous vehicle system startup recently published an impressive video where it showed one of its test vehicles operating without a driver behind the wheel in the streets of Frisco, Texas.
The Mountain View, Calif.-based company which employs deep learning and neural networks to teach its autonomous driving systems plans a six-month pilot program in Frisco, a small city of about 170,000 people on the northern edge of the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area.
Drive.ai said the Frisco pilot will initially launch with safety drivers and offer rides using fixed pickup and drop-off locations to over 10,000 people in Level 4 self-driving vehicles within a geofenced area that includes retail, entertainment, and office spaces.
Obviously, the company’s ultimate goals is to make the service available to everyone in Frisco and free of human accompaniment. The vehicles themselves should offer some assistance. In fact, the Frisco pilot will use the Nissan NV200, the same type of van that roams New York City streets as a yellow taxi with the words “self-driving vehicle” splashed across each side and signs indicating the vehicle’s intentions (like picking up passengers or waiting for a pedestrian to cross).
The program, as well as the newly released video, mark Drive.ai’s first large-scale effort to put people in their cars. Other companies have shown us similar videos, of course, including GM, Uber, Google, and Tesla. But Drive.ai seems to be positioning itself as a company that wants to teach vehicles to navigate human behavior.
Case in point: last year, Techcurnch wrote about a Drive.ai video (posted below) showing the startup’s self-driving car handle California city streets on a rainy night. During the 20-minute ride through a pre-mapped area of suburban Mountain View another vehicle cuts in front of the Drive.ai car at a four-way stop intersection, and “another near the two-minute mark where the car successfully manages a red light that’s knocked out and acting as a four-way stop as a result.” Keep in mind, this is an incident-free, unbroken footage shot at night that includes extensive segments where it’s raining quite a bit.
What’s most notable about the Drive.ai’s scalable deep-learning approach and aggressive pace is that unlike other companies they have been able to rapidly and safely handle the myriad driving situations that autonomous cars need to master and more importantly, position themselves as the driverless car company that wants to help autonomous cars talk with the people around them — and maybe even deliver a world without honking.