Already a pioneer in exploring technology-based mobility solutions, Arlington is about to become the first Texas city to offer on-street autonomous transportation service to residents and visitors alike.
Late this past summer the Arlington City Council approved a contract with Drive.ai for a one-year pilot program to run autonomous vehicles in a real-world environment. Starting on Oct. 19, Arlington and Drive.ai will offer three self-driving three-passenger vans to provide transportation within the Entertainment District.
“Drive.ai looks forward to the opportunity to bring our innovative self-driving technology to the City of Arlington,” says Conway Chen, vice president of business strategy at Drive.ai. “This forward-thinking, bustling city has unique transportation needs, and we plan to provide a last-mile transit solution within a vibrant entertainment district. Together with the city, we aim to reshape the way people experience transportation in Arlington, Texas.”
These self-driving vans will travel alongside other vehicles in a predetermined, geo-fenced area at speeds up to 35 miles per hour. Safety operators will be on board during the initial phase of the pilot program, which will be used for day-to-day mobility needs for residents, as well as to help visitors get to and from remote parking lots to AT&T Stadium, Globe Life Park, and other venues.
“The City is excited to continue our exploration into new and innovative mobility solutions,” says Mayor Jeff Williams. “Early testing of these technologically advanced solutions will prepare the City to take advantage of unique and efficient transportation options as they become available.”
The initial project cost will total $434,952 for three vehicles. If mutually agreed upon by the City and Drive.ai, that could increase to five vehicles at a later date. A $343,000 federal grant will help support the project, with the remainder of funding coming from the City. The Drive.ai vans will be among the transportation technology showcased by cities from across the state during the three-day Texas Mobility Summit, which will be held in Arlington from Oct. 28-30.
This type of pioneering transportation technology isn’t new for The American Dream City. Last year, Arlington became the first city in the country to offer continuous autonomous shuttle service to the public.
That pilot program, known as Milo, wrapped up near the end of summer after operating safely for more than 100 special events over a one-year study period. The electric shuttles operated on off-street trails in the Richard Greene and Robert Cluck linear parks for public demonstrations and before and after major events at AT&T Stadium and Globe Life Park. Funding for the Milo pilot program is being transitioned to this new project.
Earlier this year, the Arlington City Council also approved a resolution to show support and encouragement for private companies in the growing autonomous technology industry to test and deploy electric robotic delivery devices on city sidewalks to deliver packages.
Marble, a San Francisco-based, last-mile logistics robotics company, began mapping Arlington sidewalks at the end of summer in preparation for its autonomous robotic delivery pilot program. Arlington is the first Texas city in which Marble would provide its unique delivery service. That service