Lyft’s robo-taxis have made more than 50,000 rides in Las Vegas

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.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Plant-based shoes and a ukulele learning aid

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Cars

Waymo at last fires up the self-driving smarts of the Jaguar I-Pace

A year after inking a deal with Jaguar to use its I-Pace crossover for its self-driving program, Waymo has started testing the electric vehicle in autonomous mode with a view to adding it to its driverless ridesharing service.
Cars

This futuristic driverless pod will soon be delivering pizza in Texas

Pizza delivery using driverless pods is about to become a thing. Domino's has partnered with autonomous-tech specialist Nuro to use the futuristic pods for a trial delivery service starting later this year.
Cars

Florida allows autonomous cars to drive on its roads without human supervision

Florida governor Ron DeSantis passed a law that establishes a legal framework for self-driving cars to operate within the state. It allows car and tech companies to test self-driving cars without a human operator behind the wheel.
Cars

Volvo has created an autonomous truck that looks like a sports car

Volvo’s autonomous truck, called Vera, is about to start work at a Swedish port. The vehicle has a modest top speed of 25 mph and features a striking design that makes it look as if the usual cab has been swapped for a sports car.
Cars

Kia draws inspiration from Greek mythology to create a crossover for millennials

Kia will expand its global portfolio of crossovers and SUVs when it unveils a model named Seltos on June 20, 2019. Developed for milennials, the Seltos is a small, high-tech model named after the son of Hercules.
Cars

Don’t let the SUV bodies fool you, BMW’s X3 M and X4 M are bona fide M cars

BMW is launching the first M versions of its X3 and X4. The 2020 X3 M and X4 M Competition pack a new 503-horsepower 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-six and BMW’s usual array of performance tech.
Cars

After years of Le Mans misfortune, Toyota becomes impossible to beat

Toyota scored a one-two finish at the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans, its second win a row at the legendary French race. Toyota is the first Japanese automaker to win Le Mans twice, but its wins came without any real competition.
Cars

Uber drivers reportedly triggering higher fares through Surge Club

Uber drivers are reportedly participating in a so-called Surge Club to artificially trigger higher fares. Many drivers said that they do not want to join the shady practice, but they are forced to do so due to pay cuts.
Cars

Intel hates that your car is dumber than your phone. Here’s how they’ll fix it

Motorists are often underwhelmed and/or frustrated with their car's native infotainment system, so millions of them rely on Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Intel is helping Google and Volvo change that by bringing phone-like tech to the…
Cars

Fisker wants to make sure Tesla’s Model Y isn’t in a class of one when it lands

Fisker Inc. plans to launch an electric SUV with a base price of under $40,000, and a range of around 300 miles in 2021. The unnamed vehicle could compete with the Tesla Model Y, if it ever gets into production.
Cars

Could a high-performance Nissan Leaf steal the mighty GT-R’s lunch money?

Nissan developed the electric Leaf with range and practicality in mind, but the hatchback could lend its hardware to a high-performance flagship. One of Nissan's chief executives announced a four-motor, 850-hp model could arrive during the…
Cars

Forget turrets. Hummer could fight its next war in the electric SUV segment

General Motors is considering resurrecting the Hummer brand it axed in 2010 to make electric off-roaders. The plan hasn't been approved yet, and it risks alienating some die-hard Hummer fans, but it makes sense on several levels.
Cars

Flat-six makes a brief but triumphant return in Porsche’s hot-rodded 718 duo

Porsche unveiled a pair of 718-based sports cars that brazenly buck the industry's downsizing trend. The 718 Cayman GT4 and the 718 Spyder ditch the turbocharged flat-four in favor of a naturally aspirated, 4.0-liter flat-six rated at 414…