Lyft recently announced a new driver-less ride system that is reportedly set to launch in Boston before the end of 2017.
After its debut in Beantown, Lyft’s autonomy program is expected to branch out to other cities, according to The Washington Post. The company has been working with several manufacturers to build the self-driving cars. As a precaution, there will be test drivers sitting in the front seat of these vehicles when they first come out to ensure safety.
“You’re going to see it. You’re going to see these vehicles on the street,” Taggart Matthiesen, Lyft’s senior director of product, told The Washington Post.
The autonomous vehicle space has been taken over by traditional automakers like Ford and General Motors. And in terms of ride-shares, Uber is Lyft’s biggest competition. But Lyft is reportedly designing a common software interface that carmakers can utilize to get vehicles on the road.
“We’re building a way for third parties to plug their self-driving cars into our network,” Luc Vincent, vice president of engineering at Lyft told The Washington Post.
If you’re a Bostonian who uses Lyft, you could eventually be driven around in a vehicle that was produced by Nutonomy, a Cambridge-based organization that’s focused on building software to power driverless fleets. The Open Platform software has the potential to feature vehicles from GM, Jaguar and Land Rover, which entered into a deal with Lyft last month.
According to The Post, “The result may be a mishmash of autonomous vehicles serving Lyft riders in various markets across the country — an outcome, the company said, that will accelerate the development of self-driving technology.”
Lyft is relying on several partners for the development of these self-driving vehicles; however, it will still reportedly produce sensor packages and other hardware on a limited basis. The company plans to open a research facility in Palo Alto, Calif., at some point later this year.
Lyft maintains that human drivers will remain employed as the company continues to pursue self-driving vehicles and says that in the future, current employees may be utilized as assistants for elderly passengers or in-car baristas and concierges.