More and more startups are rolling out real-world self-driving shuttles

There’s near-universal agreement that Google spinoff Waymo is the leading company in the driverless-vehicle business. And Waymo’s strategy for developing fully driverless cars is very expensive. Before launching a commercial driverless car service, Waymo needs to convince itself—and the world—that its cars will be at least as safe as human drivers.

That has meant racking up millions of test miles on public roads, a process that has taken several years and cost Waymo well over $1 billion.

Waymo’s more established competitors—including Uber, GM’s Cruise, and the Ford-aligned Argo.ai—are pursuing a similar strategy. But a number of startups is also trying to build fully autonomous cars. And many of these companies simply don’t have the money it takes to follow Waymo’s lead. They need a different strategy—one that allows them to bring a product to market more quickly and at lower cost.

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Self-driving technology is going to change a lot more than cars

When people think about self-driving cars, they naturally think about, well, cars. They imagine a future where they buy a new car that has a “self drive” button that takes them wherever they want to go.

That will happen eventually. But the impact of self-driving technology is likely to be much broader than that. Our roads are full of trucks, taxis, buses, shuttles, delivery vans, and more—all of these vehicles will have self-driving equivalents within a decade or two.

The advent of self-driving technology will transform the design possibilities for all sorts of vehicles, giving rise to new vehicle categories that don’t exist now, and others that straddle the line between existing categories. It will also change the economics of transportation and delivery services, making on-demand delivery a much faster, cheaper, and more convenient option.

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Watch a truly driverless car navigate city streets

Drive.ai, the company that’s gearing up to launch an autonomous ride-hailing pilot in Frisco, Texas, just released a video showing off its driverless capabilities. Drive.ai’s service will initially launch with safety drivers in July, but the goal is to ultimately operate the ride-hailing platform without a driver behind the wheel.

In the video below, you can see a Drive.ai-powered car navigate both public and private roads without even a safety driver. On the lower-right-hand corner, you can see an augmented reality visualization that shows how the perception system works to identify cars, pedestrians, cyclists and other objects.

Before the July launch, Drive.ai will be collecting data along the routes and working with the city to educate people about self-driving technology. During this trial period, which starts in July and will run for six months, the service will be limited to employees, residents and patrons of Hall properties. Down the road, the goal is to open up the program to all residents of Frisco.

Drive.ai is launching an autonomous ride-hailing network in Texas

Drive.ai, the self-driving car startup with roots in Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence Lab, has partnered with Frisco, Texas and the Hall Group to deploy the first autonomous ride-hailing platform in the state of Texas.

Initially, the platform will be available to more than 10,000 members of Hall Group’s commercial and residential communities. Through the service, people will be able to hail free autonomous rides from fixed pickup locations to fixed drop-off locations.

“Self-driving cars are here, and can improve the way we live right now,” Drive.ai co-founder and CEO Sameep Tandon said in a press release. “Our technology is safe, smart, and adaptive, and we are ready to work with governments and businesses to solve their transportation needs. Working with the City of Frisco and Frisco TMA, this pilot program will take people to the places they want to go and transform the way they experience transportation.”

Before the July launch, Drive.ai will be collecting data along the routes and working with the city to educate people about self-driving technology. During this trial period, which starts in July and will run for six months, the service will be limited to employees, residents and patrons of Hall properties. Down the road, the goal is to open up the program to all residents of Frisco.

“Today definitely marks a mobility milestone for our entire region,” Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney said in a press release. “It also gets us closer to achieving one of our council’s ‘Top Ten’ goals, which is to improve traffic throughout Frisco, one of the fastest growing cities in the country.”

In September, Drive.ai announced a partnership with Lyft to launch an autonomous ride-hailing program in the San Francisco Bay Area. That program has yet to launch.

Lyft’s strategy: Be the Android of the self-driving car business

On Thursday, Lyft announced a new self-driving car partnership with the Mountain View-based startup Drive.ai. In the coming months, Lyft customers in San Francisco will occasionally have their hails answered by Drive’s experimental self-driving cars—albeit with a safety driver in the front seat.

On its own, this isn’t huge news. Drive.ai is not a well-known company and the deal will initially involve only a handful of cars. But the announcement illustrates how Lyft is positioning itself to win the autonomous vehicle wars of the coming decade.

Tesla and Uber want to be the Apple of self-driving cars

Many experts expect that ride-sharing will be a major part of the self-driving car business. With no need to pay drivers, ride-sharing services can be a lot more affordable than taxis are today. And a ride-sharing approach will allow companies more flexibility in when, where, and how they roll out self-driving technology.

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Drive.ai raises $50M for retrofit kits to bring self-driving to existing fleets

 Self-driving technology startup Drive.ai has raised a $50 million Series B funding round, led by NEA and with participation from GGV and previous investors, including Series A lead Northern Light. The new funding will help the company pursue its evolved business strategy, which now focuses on creating retrofit kits that can be used to add self-driving capabilities to existing commercial and… Read More

Watch Drive.ai’s self-driving car handle California city streets on a rainy night

drive-ai Autonomous vehicle system startup Drive.ai is ready to show off its technology in use for the first time, with a video showing the company’s test vehicle making its way through the streets of Mountain View.
Other companies have shown us similar videos, of course, including GM-owned Cruise very recently, and Tesla. But Drive.ai’s demonstration is interesting because it depicts… Read More

Emotionally intelligent computers may already have a higher EQ than you

computer-heart The idea of creating robots that can understand, compute and respond to human emotions has been explored in movies for decades. However, a common misconception is that the challenge of creating emotionally intelligent computing systems is too great to be met any time soon. In reality, computers are already demonstrating they can augment — or even replace — human emotional intelligence. Read More