Lyft's Uncertain Future of Autonomous Robotaxi Rides
Lyft, Ford, and Argo chart a path from Miami to Austin
While Lyft is being out-competed against by Uber again in 2022 and its stock seems destined to become a penny stock in 2023, it’s efforts and ideals for a self-driving future are always fun to watch.
Lyft’s president, John Zimmer, previously said a majority of the company’s rides would be in self-driving vehicles by 2021. But as far as executives making promises about self-driving vehicles goes, we are zero for ever, thus far.
Still the Argo-Ford-Lyft partnership is fairly interesting in a land of robotaxi pilots. Ride-hailing giant Lyft and autonomous vehicle technology company Argo AI are now officially offering public robotaxi service in Austin, Texas. This is the second city in which Lyft and Argo are operating a commercial robotaxi service after Miami, which launched in December.
Argo AI is an autonomous driving technology company headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The company was co-founded in 2016 by Bryan Salesky and Peter Rander, veterans of the Google and Uber automated driving programs.
As you might expect, Zimmer still believes his company can help bring about revolutionary change to transportation — just on a different timeline than he’d first envisioned.
Lyft’s company is on uncertain ground with new rules that might do away with the contract status of flexible gig workers. The stock LYFT 0.00%↑ is therefore plummeting. The Biden Labor Department released a proposal Tuesday that could make it possible for gig workers to be reclassified as employees, rather than contractors. This is maybe a worst-case scenario for Lyft, that’s a pure-play company, even as Uber has expanded well into Uber Eats and other kinds of delivery.
In 2016, Lyft co-founder John Zimmer predicted most of the company’s rides would be self-driving within five years, a transformation that would largely eliminate the need for costly drivers.
Riders in Austin will have the option of choosing a driverless commute directly in the Lyft app for the same price as a normal Lyft ride, the company said Thursday in a blog post. The app will enable customers to unlock the vehicle’s doors, start the ride and contact customer support. But don’t worry, there are typically two technicians in the front of the car to monitor everything.
Recently I wrote a long op-ed about the shady slowness of the autonomous driving movement. After $100 Billion thrown at the industry, the errors and level of autonomy are really quite shocking.
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