Skip to main content

What Lyft and Aptiv learned from 100,000 self-driving car trips

Lyft and Aptiv’s partnership to develop self-driving cars for ridesharing has reached a major milestone. Aptiv cars operating on the Lyft network in Las Vegas have completed 100,000 trips. The two companies will not discuss scaling up the program, but said the Vegas deployment will serve as a “blueprint” for more widespread use of self-driving cars.

Passengers use the Lyft app to hail a self-driving car, just like they would any other ride. The cars — modified BMW 5 Series sedans — are operated by Aptiv (which places human backup drivers in each car) and use the company’s autonomous driving system. This arrangement has helped customers learn to trust the technology, a Lyft press release said. While Lyft does have its own in-house self-driving car program, partnering with Aptiv allowed the rideshare company to get self-driving cars on its network more quickly.

Reactions to the self-driving cars have been mostly positive, according to Aptiv. The company said 98 percent of riders rated the experience five out of five stars, and cited glowing reviews on social media. Aptiv previously told Digital Trends that many riders actively sought out self-driving cars just to see what it was like to ride in one. Being able to hail one on the Lyft app gives those curious riders easier access to them.

In part because of the positive feedback from customers, Lyft said it considers self-driving cars to be “ready for broader adoption.” The company said it believes customers are “eager” for more autonomous vehicles, but it’s unclear how Lyft will make that happen.

Lyft cited partnerships with local Las Vegas government entities as a key part of the self-driving car program’s success so far. This not only allows Lyft and Aptiv to operate self-driving cars on public streets, but also includes the installation of sensors on traffic lights that can be read by the cars, making it easier for them to navigate traffic. Other cities may not be as receptive to companies bringing autonomous vehicles to their streets, let alone the idea of spending money on infrastructure to support them.

Las Vegas is also a relatively easy environment for self-driving cars. Cars spend most of their time in autonomous mode driving in a straight line in stop-and-go traffic. Vegas’ climate means rain and snow will almost never be a problem, and cars don’t operate in autonomous mode on private property. So, every time a car turns off the Strip and into the parking lot of one of Vegas’ many casinos, a human driver takes over.

Lyft and Aptiv are not the only companies looking to take self-driving cars mainstream. Waymo operates its own ridesharing service in the Phoenix metropolitan area, and even runs some cars without human drivers behind the wheel. General Motors’ Cruise division recently unveiled a self-driving car purpose-built for ridesharing, and Uber’s autonomous-driving program appears to be clawing its way back from oblivion following a fatal crash.

Editors' Recommendations

Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
Tesla issues stark warning to drivers using its Full Self-Driving mode
A Telsa Model 3 drives along a road.

Tesla in recent days rolled out a long-awaited update to its Full Self-Driving (FSD) mode that gives its vehicles a slew of driver-assist features.

But in a stark warning to owners who’ve forked out for the premium FSD feature, Tesla said that the software is still in beta and therefore “may do the wrong thing at the worst time.” It insisted that drivers should keep their "hands on the wheel and pay extra attention to the road.”

Read more
The future of transportation: Self-driving cars? Try self-driving everything
GM electric flying taxi

Technology is reshaping every aspect of our lives. Once a week in The Future Of, we examine innovations in important fields, from farming to transportation, and what they will mean in the years and decades to come. 

Stroll around any CES (virtual or otherwise) in the last decade and it’s impossible to miss all the feels the tech industry has for transportation, self-driving cars in particular. Every major technology company has its fingers in cars, from the infotainment systems powered by Google and Apple to the operating systems driven by Blackberry and Linux to the components and circuits that make up the car itself, built by Qualcomm and Nvidia and NXP and a dozen more. (And don't get me started about this Apple Car nonsense.)

Read more
From Paris to NYC, Mobileye will bring self-driving cars to metropolises
A self-driving vehicle from Mobileye's autonomous test fleet navigates the streets of Detroit. (Credit: Mobileye, an Intel Company)

A Tesla in Autopilot mode can ply the highways of Northern California without issue, but when it comes to congested cities packed with erratic vehicle traffic, bikes, and pedestrians, cameras don’t always cut it. Or they didn’t, anyway. After years of testing, Intel-owned Mobileye intends to embrace the madness of the metropolis by rolling out self-driving cars in cities across the world.

On Monday, the first day of CES 2021, the company announced that Tokyo, Shanghai, Paris, Detroit, and New York City will all see fleets of Mobileye-powered vehicles rolled out in early 2021, if all goes well (regulatory issues are still being ironed out in NYC).

Read more