To start off, the pilot program will have a six vehicle fleet carry passengers along three pre-defined routes that each end at a transit station in the North Park region. Delphi has already begun generating high-fidelity 3D maps of the routes that cover a five miles radius. Over the course of the program as the vehicle capability and safety is demonstrated, the plan is to offer full point-to-point travel to anywhere in the test region. Safety drivers will be on board the vehicles to monitor performance and take over in the event of a problem. Toward the end of the pilot, Delphi hopes to start operating the vehicles without a safety driver.
The plan is to have fully autonomous cars without steering wheels but they will only be tested with a “controlled group of people,” according to the firm and is proven successful, the firm plans on a wider global roll out starting with US and Europe.
The cars will be fitted with software that will allow commuters to book them, in a similar way to ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft.
“We are starting in a fairly small controlled manner but the expectation is we will continue to build. Starting with a small pilot and then moving to an operational fleet of 30, 40 or 50 vehicles with that continuing to expand,” said Delphi’s vice-president of services Glen De Vos.
“It will get a lot of attention and that is good because it helps socialize the technology.”
This feature originally appeared on BBC.