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Driverless technology may be on the rise, but Lyft has a place for humans

A person driving a car.

Despite the burgeoning interest in driverless cars and autonomous technology, there will always be a place in this world (and in cars) for humans. That, at least, is the stance that Lyft is taking according to its interview with Recode. In a recent episode of the publication’s podcast, the company’s director of product, Taggart Matthiesen, noted that while Lyft is certainly focusing on self-driving automobiles, their human counterparts will not be forgotten in the face of technological progress.

“Drivers have always been part of our family, they have been core to our service,” Matthiesen said. “As far as I’m concerned, they will continue to be that. Over time, technology will give us the opportunity to provide additional services on our platform, whether that is a concierge service, whether that is an in-vehicle experience … these are all things that we will slowly evolve and work with our drivers on.”

This certainly comes as encouragement and reassurance to those who fear that their jobs may soon be obviated by the rise of the machine. After all, robots have previously been estimated to have the capacity to replace some 5 million jobs in the next three years. However, given that most of these jobs will likely be lower level, administrative roles, this replacement could also herald the dawn of a more creative and innovative era in the human workforce.

In any case, Lyft is making clear that it has no intentions of completely turning to robots and machines when it comes to its own driving fleet. Already, Matthiesen said, the company has formed an “advisory council” tasked with “proactively reaching out about the future of human workers in self-driving cars.” And ultimately, the director noted, Lyft might “never be 100 percent” autonomous. Why? Because when push comes to shove, there are some scenarios in which human empathy and understanding are necessary.

“If I need to go to the doctor’s office and my leg is in a cast, and I can’t drive, we have a service for that,” Matthiesen said. “If you get into the world of autonomous, we may need someone in that vehicle to help that person. There are things we’re doing beyond getting a passenger from point A to point B, additional services that we as a company can look at.”

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