Customers Will Be Able to Request a Driverless Lyft Starting in 2017

Thursday, 05 May 2016 - 2:48PM
Robotics
Thursday, 05 May 2016 - 2:48PM
Customers Will Be Able to Request a Driverless Lyft Starting in 2017
What if you could get a Lyft without the driver? General Motors and Lyft are teaming up to put driverless Bolt taxis on the road to test an autonomous car service for customers in 2017.

GM recently invested $500 million in Lyft, which provides similar services to the smartphone-request taxi service Uber. They might be able to distinguish themselves from the competition now, however, as Lyft would be the first to allow riders to opt out of a human driver. The technology will be developed as part of GM's acquisition of Cruise Automation Inc., which specializes in autonomous car technology.

There aren't too many details released about the pilot program so far, except that it will take place in an as-yet-undisclosed city and is set to unroll in 2017. First, the cars will simply be tested on the roads, but apparently Lyft plans to actually make this service available to consumers sometime next year.

Opening quote
"We will want to vet the autonomous tech between Cruise, GM and ourselves and slowly introduce this into markets," Taggart Matthiesen, Lyft's product director, told the Wall Street Journal. "[That will] ensure that cities would have full understanding of what we are trying to do here."
Closing quote

Interestingly, one of the primary criticisms of services like Lyft and Uber is the lack of vetting process for the drivers, which would be rendered moot if one or both of them started using autonomous cars. On a larger level, this signals the advent of a new, driverless era, particularly when it comes to public transportation, which could lead to a massive loss of jobs. But on the other hand, most experts agree that widespread usage of autonomous cars would make the roads safer, especially by eliminating drunk driving. Either way, it's safe to say that the roads may look very different a few years from now.

Image credit: Sun Sentinel

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