Self-driving startup Drive.ai released a video Wednesday of its bright orange Nissan NV200 taxi testing on the roads of Texas -- with the driver's seat conspicuously empty. The company is demonstrating its artificial intelligence and sensor technology for self-driving cars, which will power the pilot of an autonomous taxi service scheduled to launch in Frisco, Texas later this year.
In the video, the self-driving vehicle navigates streets and through a parking lot, negotiates an intersection with cross-traffic and a traffic light and even makes its way around a traffic circle. The footage has been sped up to three times speed, so the vehicle must be moving pretty slowly still, but it's still a fairly impressive demonstration.
An inset picture-in-picture view lets us see how the car's many sensors see the road boundaries, parked and moving vehicles and even a cyclist who seems not at all surprised to be sharing the road with an empty driver's seat.
Drive.ai announced plans earlier this year to launch its on-demand self-driving car service on public roads in Frisco, Texas. In the early stages, the pilot program will use safety drivers to monitor the autonomous operation from the driver's seat. The goal, however, is to ultimately move to totally driverless cars, like the one in this demo, with remote monitoring.
Drive.ai will be open to "office employees, residents and patrons" of the Frisco area. They'll be able to summon a ride using the Drive.ai app after the scheduled launch in July.