Lyft will soon begin offering users in San Francisco the option to hail a “self-driving” vehicle for their trip, according to a recent statement from the company.
I chose to put “self-driving” in quotes here because the vehicles will of course still possess an overseer/engineer sitting in the front seat, ready to take over if need be, as the law requires.
The self-driving tech will be provided by the Mountain View, California–based firm Drive.ai — a startup trying to work its way into the sector, while there’s still a chance to do so, seemingly through its partnership with Lyft.
Initially, there will only be a very limited number of these self-driving Lyft taxis in use, but expansion plans are presumably on the table if everything goes well.
The co-founder and President of Drive.ai, Carol Reiley, explained: “We want to make sure the experience feels as much like an autonomous vehicle experience as possible.”
Reuters provides more: “Passengers must choose to opt into the program and the rides are free. Reiley declined to disclose the car model being used or precisely when the self-driving Lyft rides would start. Lyft declined to comment further. The program allows Lyft to test how its passengers react to self-driving cars and Drive.ai, a two-year-old company, to log more miles and tweak its software. Reiley said Drive.ai will use its own mapping data for the trips.”
This news follows not too long after Lyft announced that it was creating its own self-driving vehicle division. It’s not clear how this new partnership fits in with that.
What is clear, though, is that Lyft has managed to begin (legally) offering rides in self-driving taxis in the Bay Area before its rival Uber has. Probably not an achievement that’s worth much on its own, but it is perhaps a sign…