Because the cars are equipped with sensors that gather information about their surroundings by sending out pulses of light — as well as radar and an array of cameras — the cars could potentially operate at night as well. But the start-up decided to keep a tight rein on its service before gradually expanding the route and exposing the cars to new conditions. Drive.ai said it would suspend operations during a downpour and in the rare event of snow.
There will still be situations where the cars are slow to make decisions on their own — in the face of extremely heavy traffic, for instance — but remote technicians employed by Drive.ai will send help to the cars over the internet. The cars will include connections to three separate cellular networks.
Drive.ai said it was working closely with Frisco officials. The city of 175,000 can keep the company abreast of construction zones and other road changes, Mr. Ng said, and signs identifying the area where the cars will drive have been installed.
Thomas Bamonte, a senior program manager for automated vehicles with the North Central Texas Council of Governments, which handles planning for Dallas and surrounding areas, said such work would become increasingly important as the metropolitan area added roughly a million new people every 10 years.
“We want to invest in new technology rather than the physical expansion of roadways,” he said.
Asked if the Uber crash gave him pause, he said state law allowed companies like Drive.ai to operate without interference from local governments. The companies, he said, must be cautious.
Noah Marshall, a financial analyst with Jamba Juice, which is based in Frisco, said the new autonomous taxi service would be a “great thing” for the town. His office is along Drive.ai’s route, and he said he hoped to try the service.
Other Frisco residents were warier.
“This might be a good idea, but there is so much traffic here, and Texans aren’t very patient,” said Mark Mulch, a local real estate agent. Referring to one Arizona city where self-driving cars are being tested, he added: “Scottsdale is laid back. But Dallas is too fast.”