Self-driving cars roll into Frisco next month

Image description
Self-driving cars roll into Frisco next month
Image description
Self-driving cars roll into Frisco next month
Image description
Self-driving cars roll into Frisco next month
California-based self-driving car company Drive.ai announced in May it would launch a self-driving car service in Frisco. The pilot program will launch in July and run for six months.

“... In order to solve our traffic issues in the future, we have to embrace technology and use these cutting edge resources,” Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney said.

The pilot program is in collaboration with the newly created Frisco Transportation Management Association, or FTMA, a public-private partnership between the city of Frisco, Denton County Transportation Authority, Hall Group, Frisco Station Partners and The Star in Frisco.

“Self-driving vehicles is the first project that [FTMA is] launching, and it’s not the end,” said Kristina Holcomb, DCTA’s vice president of planning and development. “Our plan is to have multiple solutions within the area to create a holistic approach to mobility, and [autonomous vehicles] are part of those solutions.”

The initial program will begin with fixed pickup and drop-off locations around Hall Park and The Star, with a planned expansion to Frisco Station. The program will be available to more than 10,000 people when it launches.

Self-driving car service


The pilot program will have a total of four bright orange Nissan NV200 vans that will run in a tightly geofenced area—virtual geographic boundary—along fixed routes.

Drive.ai CEO Sameep Tandon said it was important the company deploy the vehicles in a controlled fashion by only having four cars and a small area for those cars to move around to ensure safety on the roadways. Tandon also said the vehicles are equipped with a number of sensors to respond to what happens on the road.

Tandon said leading up to the July launch office employees and patrons of Hall Park and The Star will gradually onboard into the program by gaining access to Drive.ai’s ride-hailing smartphone app. Once the program is live riders will use the app to hail rides from the self-driving cars. Rides will be free during the six-month pilot. Tandon said how much rides will cost after six months has not been determined.

Tandon said Drive.ai is working with city leaders to host a number of town hall meetings to educate the community. Town hall dates are not determined.

The pilot program will be monitored in phases. It will start with a driver at the wheel monitoring how the vehicle is running, then eventually the driver will be removed, and a chaperone will be in the passenger seat assisting passengers and monitoring operations. The chaperone will eventually go away as well, and the car will continue to be monitored remotely.

According to Drive.ai, the company will also deploy telechoice technology to add another layer of safety. The technology helps the vehicle if it encounters a problem. For example, if a vehicle needs to execute a difficult maneuver at an intersection and it determines that it requires human insight, it will stop and seek input from a remote human operator to proceed. Through the telechoice technology the operator can control the car directly. Through these scenarios the vehicle learns and improves automatically.

“Frisco’s role is to do what we can to make sure the infrastructure is ready, so whether that’s signs, pavement markings or construction,” said Brian Moen, Frisco’s assistant director of transportation. “So if we have somebody that’s going to do any road closures in that area, it is also our job to keep close tabs on that and communicate that information to Drive.ai so they know about it ahead of time.”

Moen said the six-month pilot program will be an opportunity to see if the service could be expanded into other areas of the city.

Long-term effects


Hall Park developer Craig Hall is planning an update this year to the park to include residential and entertainment components. Hall said he wanted to become part of the self-driving vehicle project because he believes there will soon be driverless cars and ride-sharing programs to the point where there are fewer cars on the road, improving traffic and changing the amount of parking needed.

“I think over time we’ll see fewer parking spaces needed, and we’ll build more office space, more residential, more retail, with fewer cars needed per square footage of usable real estate,” Hall said.

The plans to update the office park show that Hall would shrink the size of the actual parking area and construct a five-to-six-story parking garage with an office building on top.

Choosing Frisco


For several years Drive.ai has been developing an artificial intelligence system for autonomous vehicles. When the company was ready to pilot its program it chose Texas because of its clear regulatory stance on self-driving cars, Tandon said. Last year Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 2205, which implements safety standards for autonomous vehicles.

Tandon said the company spoke to different cities before choosing Frisco.

“Frisco came up as a really forward-looking community, and what we liked about the city of Frisco is we were able to very quickly talk to them and discuss how this rollout could work with the community,” Tandon said.
SHARE THIS STORY
By Nicole Luna

Nicole Luna is the Senior Reporter for Frisco. She covers development, transportation, education, business and city government. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Spanish from The University of Texas at Arlington and has been with Community Impact Newspaper since June 2015.


MOST RECENT

The corner of 1st Street and Cherry Street in downtown Frisco is one of three street signs that will be replaced following City Council's approval of the use of a numeral abbreviation for 1st Street. (William C. Wadsack/Community Impact Newspaper)
Frisco City Council approves slight name changes for seven downtown streets

Frisco staff found only three street signs would need to be replaced, at an estimated total cost of $450.

Anne McCausland
Anne McCausland not seeking re-election to Frisco ISD board

McCausland was first elected to the board in 2011 and served as board president for two years.

The filing period for the upcoming May general elections opened Jan. 15 and ends Feb. 14. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Five candidates file for May 2 Frisco city elections; 1 files for FISD race

The filing period for the May 2 election will continue through Feb. 14.

Texas oil and gas industry could see a major slowdown in 2020

The oil and natural gas industry paid a record-setting $16.3 billion in taxes and royalties to local governments and the state in 2019, the Texas Oil and Gas Association announced Tuesday.

David McDavid Honda of Frisco renovations set to wrap up in February

The location is still undergoing renovations to the exterior of the facility.

Jersey Mike's Subs offers a variety of sub-style sandwiches, meals, breakfast items and sides. (Courtesy Jersey Mike's Subs)
Jersey Mike's Subs celebrates first anniversary in Frisco

The American sandwich chain offers a variety of sub-style sandwiches, meals, breakfast items and sides.

taco cabana tacos chips soda
Taco Cabana locations close in Frisco

The Dallas Parkway and Preston Road locations are now closed.

frisco public library website redesign
Frisco Public Library to debut new website

The redesigned website will allow users to post comments and reviews as well as create create lists and get recommendations.

Candidate packets are now available for those interested in running for an elected position with the city of Frisco or Frisco ISD. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Candidate packets available now ahead of Jan. 15 election filing start

Three positions with the city and two FISD board of trustees seats are slated to be on the May 2 ballot.

Frisco to become region's next employment hub

Dallas North Tollway ‘ripe for expansion’ due to rising office space demand.

Filing for the upcoming May general elections opens Jan. 15 and ends Feb. 14. (Courtesy Fotolia)
New filing requirements in place for May election

The May 2 election will be for mayor and City Council Places 5 and 6.

Back to top