If you’ve been to Las Vegas in the last year, you might have seen one of Lyft’s self-driving cars tootling up and down the Strip. Heck, you might even have ridden in one.
The company has just revealed it’s now given more than 50,000 automated rides to paying passengers in the city, up from 30,000 in January 2019. Lyft says the figure makes it the largest commercial self-driving car program currently operating in the U.S.
Lyft partnered with vehicle technology firm Aptiv to launch the service, with locals and tourists alike able to request a ride in the usual way, via the Lyft app. It uses 30 modified BMW 540i cars, all kitted out with Aptiv-made sensor, cameras, and software to ensure a safe ride.
In a blog post announcing its 50,000-ride milestone, Lyft said the average ride rating given by passengers was an impressive 4.97 out of 5, a figure that suggests the car took them successfully from A to B without any major mishaps. You have to wonder where it lost that 0.03.
Backing up the healthy ride rating, 92% of passengers said they felt “very safe or extremely safe” during their trip, though this could be attributed in part to the presence of a safety driver behind the wheel for all of Lyft’s robo-taxi rides.
Interestingly, 95% of those who climbed into one of Aptiv’s high-tech cars said it was their first time inside an autonomous vehicle, though Lyft pointed out that one particularly enthusiastic rider has so far taken 14 trips using the service.
As we’ve noted before, rides inside self-driving cars are designed to be … well, boring, as the software powering the vehicle prioritizes safety by sticking to the speed limits and other rules of the road. No thrilling accelerations in these cars, no fast turns, and no rapid braking (unless someone jumps out in front of it) — just a gentle, drama-free ride.
While it’s likely to be many years before Lyft expands its autonomous ridesharing service in a more meaningful way, the company is still looking for partnerships to further its self-driving ambitions. For example, it recently announced a deal with Waymo for a ridesharing service in Phoenix, Arizona, where Waymo already has a ton of on-road experience testing its driverless cars.
Lyft says its ultimate goal is to reduce car ownership to make cities “safer, greener, and more efficient.” With this in mind, it’s also been adding bike- and scooter-rental services to its app in a growing number of cities, encouraging riders to zip between its various offerings to reach their destination.
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