Even in a world increasingly driven by technology, driverless cars sound futuristic and improbable—or, at the very least, miles away. Yet new developments from major automakers, rideshare services and city planners suggests that the driverless car era is nearly road-ready.
Lyft has unveiled an evolving business model that includes teaming up with General Motors to ultimately create a fleet of driverless cars.
At the moment, riders can check into the Lyft app to secure on-demand transportation provided by a driver using a privately-owned vehicle—memorably marked with the company’s proprietary hot-pink moustache attached to the car’s front. Riders can also rent a GM vehicle through Lyft and do the driving themselves. “This rental hub is part of a theme that you’ve seen from Lyft,” says Lyft CEO John Zimmer, “of doing things to improve the driver experience and to invest in drivers.”
But the ultimate evolution of the two companies’ partnership will be to eliminate the driver altogether. The partners are planning a fleet of self-driving GM cars available to Lyft riders, no driver included or needed. Lyft is investing half a billion dollars into software to turn the GM cars into driverless vehicles. A timeline for this plan has not been released.
The competition is thinking alike: Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said on Twitter that his company plans to have a self-driving fleet by 2030. Another driverless-car ride-share partnership was rumored between Ford and Google, with plans expected to be announced at
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