Arlington, Drive.ai to Begin Autonomous Van Pilot Program in Fall

Called a “forward-thinking, bustling city,” Arlington signs on to a one-year pilot program to bring the driverless vans to its entertainment district.

Drive.ai

Self-driving vans powered by Drive.ai are coming to Arlington’s entertainment district this fall.

The fleet of three vans will shuttle residents and visitors around a geofenced area that includes AT&T Stadium and Globe Life Park starting Oct. 19. The rides will be free with each van carrying three passengers, an ambassador to explain the technology and a safety driver to ensure there are no incidents.

“This forward-thinking, bustling city has unique transportation needs and we plan to provide a last-mile transit solution within a vibrant entertainment district.”
Conway Chen

“This forward-thinking, bustling city has unique transportation needs and we plan to provide a last-mile transit solution within a vibrant entertainment district,” said Conway Chen, vice president of business strategy at Drive.ai.

Arlington entered into a one-year contract with Drive.ai with the option to extend the service for another year, said Alicia Winkelblech, assistant director for the office of strategic initiatives. The service could also expand to five vans in the future.

“We are poised to be the first in Texas to offer driverless service to the general public,” Winkelbech said. “The vehicles will be running autonomously but the safety driver is the backup in case something needs to be dealt with by a human.”

The vehicles will be limited to 35 mph and will remain within a set area during the trial period.

Drive.ai

The vans will be gas-powered. [Photo Courtesy Drive.ai]

Details are still being worked out but the vans will likely run set routes for Texas Rangers games, Dallas Cowboys games, concerts and other special events to get people to and from remote parking lots, she said. In these cases, the vans would pick people up from a set location. On a daily basis, the vans could be hailed by an app to take Arlington residents and workers to lunch and back, for example.

DRIVE.AI WILL USE GAS-POWERED VANS

The Nissan vans will be gasoline powered.

This is Arlingtons second foray into autonomous vehicles. The first, MILO, was limited to the 10-foot-wide trails in the entertainment district. That one-year trial ended in August.

“Early testing of these technologically advanced solutions will prepare the city to take advantage of unique and efficient transportation options as they become available,” Mayor Jeff Williams said.

Drive.ai has another pilot program in Frisco.

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