See what it’s like to take a ride in Drive.ai’s self-driving taxi

Ahead of the July launch of Drive.ai’s on-demand autonomous-car rides in Texas, the company has released a video (above) showing one of its driverless vehicles making its way through the streets of Frisco, where the service will operate.

Watch as Drive.ai’s car safely navigates a variety of road conditions, from quiet private streets to busy intersections on public roads. An augmented reality visualization at the bottom right of the display shows how the car’s sensors and cameras pick out objects on the road such as other vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians.

While there’s no safety driver behind the wheel during the demonstration, the company’s autonomous taxi service will begin with one aboard to ensure everything runs smoothly, and to provide reassurance to first-time riders via explanations about how the technology works.

Mountain View, California-based Drive.ai says the aim of its debut service is to solve the “last mile’” transit problem that takes people between locations that are too far to walk but too close to drive, “and often too crowded to find parking,” the company notes.

At the start, the six-month pilot will offer free rides inside a geofenced area containing retail, entertainment, and office space, and use fixed pickup and drop-off locations. The scheme marks the first time for regular Texans to use such a driverless taxi service.

If the idea of watching a self-driving car do exactly what it’s supposed to do deters you from hitting the play button on the video above, then Drive.ai has helpfully picked out several highlights from the video that are worth a look:

– 0:37 As the car proceeds to drive on public roads by crossing a 6-lane intersection, our system looks both ways for a long distance to understand what is happening and how to proceed.

– 1:19 Cyclist does a double-take on seeing no one in the driver’s seat, yet still offers a friendly wave!

– 1:53 We encounter a roundabout — this often requires the car to negotiate traffic merging from multiple points.

– 3:11 Low-angle sunlight can make it difficult to see. Our system fuses the inputs from multiple sensors to ensure accurate detection and tracking.

Drive.ai was founded by a group of A.I. engineers, many of them from Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence Lab.

The Silicon Valley, California company has built its entire self-driving system from scratch, including mapping, perception, motion planning, fleet management, communications, and its ridesharing smartphone app.