Self-driving cars don’t drink, and Denton County will get a self-driving car service this summer. The nation’s first publicly available self-driving car service will begin its test run this July in Frisco.
Who’s testing self-driving cars in the Dallas area?
Introducing the service is a partnership that includes Frisco, California-based Drive.ai, the Denton County Transportation Authority, and executives at Frisco Station, Hall Park, and The Star. The test launch will offer the 10,000 people who work at Hall Park rides to The Star in Frisco.
After that, people will be able to request rides through their smartphones during the project’s six-month public test run phase.
Texas is among just ten states approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation to road-test automated driving technology, and Frisco would be the very first offering on public roads, open to everyone.
Initial trips will have humans in the cars; at the final stage, the cars will go solo with remote operators available to take the controls.
How will self-driving cars affect road safety in the Frisco area?
The self-driving car industry had a tragic setback in March 2018. An Arizona resident died after being hit by one of Uber’s self-driving cars.
That noted, engineers and public safety administrators see this new technology as extremely promising from a life-saving standpoint.
James Cline is president of the Denton County Transportation Authority. Cline observes that vehicles operating through artificial intelligence (AI) will never become distracted by kids or a cell phone buzzing. They never fall asleep at the wheel.
Nor do they ever take alcohol or drugs.
How important is all this to road safety? Consider this. Worldwide, more than a million car accidents will take lives every year. And human error explains some 90% of them. Consider that at least one person gets killed in a drunk driving crash every hour in the United States. The total deaths: 27 people each day.
If people have more mobility choices, avoiding driving under the influence, and the consequences that come with a DWI conviction, will become far easier and more convenient. It stands to reason, then, that people will no longer be hurt every two minutes in these crashes — as they are in our country today.
What are some tips for sharing the road with self-driving vehicles?
Notice the Drive.ai vehicles as they debut in Frisco. Their presence will resemble a shuttle service. You’ll see bright orange Nissan NV200 vans, each with a signature blue wave design. And they’ll move along specific, fixed routes.
Give them the respect you would give school buses. Remember that in the six-month phase that begins in July, human safety drivers will sit behind the wheel, able to redirect the vehicles. The self-driving cars will also communicate with pedestrians and other drivers through screens installed on each car’s exterior.
Being chosen as one of the test cities for self-driving cars is an exciting thing for Frisco, and will hopefully keep drivers and pedestrians safer one the road in the future.