Drive.ai’s new service is scheduled to run for one year and begin with three vehicles. Riders can hail the vehicles one of two ways: by downloading an app that allows a user to request a vehicle or by going to a designated pickup point and request a vehicle using a kiosk, according to the company. The service is funded by the city of Arlington and with federal grants, according to city officials.
Riders will connect to a handful of well-traveled local landmarks, such as the city’s convention center, retail areas, restaurants and office buildings, as well as AT&T Stadium and Globe Life Park, the respective homes of the Dallas Cowboys and the Texas Rangers.
Halder said that about 100,000 people flood into the city’s entertainment district on game days, creating a distinct need for transportation, but also new challenges for the company as it continues to refine its technology. This time, the routes will be longer and potentially more complicated, especially when pedestrians descend on the area during games.
Drive.ai has attempted to distinguish itself by prioritizing “recognizability over beauty,” giving its Nissan vehicles bright orange paint jobs that are designed to grab the attention of pedestrians and drivers, according to company officials.
The vehicles operate along fixed routes, include human backup drivers and travel up to 35 mph. They also include exterior panels with messages — such as “waiting for you to cross” — to take the place of a human driver making eye contact or gesturing with a pedestrian at a crosswalk, for example. In the near future backup drivers will be removed and the vehicles will operate autonomously.