Autonomous cars to bring ‘Third Transportation Revolution’: Lyft

Autonomous cars to bring ‘Third Transportation Revolution’: Lyft

Lyft thinks that autonomous cars will more likely be part of the networks being operated by ride-hailing services than being privately owned. In fact, Lyft expects that its robotic cars will outnumber human driven cars in the next five years.

Lyft’s co-founder and President John Zimmer said that autonomous cars are the next big thing for ride-hailing companies, car makers and tech firms. Zimmer said that a change is coming in the thinking of people as they now think that it is simpler and cost effective to not own a car.

In this situation, if networked autonomous vehicles will be available then people will prefer to stop using car. When this scenario will turn out to be true then there will be ample of space available for sidewalks, parks and new housing as a lot of parking space used by cars will be free.

Uber Technologies realizes this fact and that is the reason that it has started testing its ride-hailing autonomous cars on the streets of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. But in the trials, a driver is present who will intervene whenever situation demands.

Lyft in partnership with General Motors is testing a network of autonomous vehicles in Phoenix and San Francisco. Zimmer said that robotic cards are going to result into ‘The Third Transportation Revolution’.

“And by 2025, owning a car will go the way of the DVD. Until then, over the next five to 10 years there will be both driver and driverless cars on the road, which we call a hybrid network”, affirmed Zimmer.

It shall also be noted that in the first five or more years after the introduction of autonomous vehicles, the requirements for human drivers will increase.

According to a report in PC World by John Ribeiro, "The ride-hailing company expects that Lyft rides in the robot cars will outstrip those in cars driven by human drivers within the next five years in the U.S, according to John Zimmer, its co-founder and president."

The forecast by Zimmer may appear a trifle optimistic in some places and may not reflect the views of others in the industry. Zimmer disagrees, for example, with Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, who has written about a model where autonomous car owners generate income from their vehicles while at work or on vacation by renting cars through a Tesla shared fleet. Musk's model will not scale because individual car owners won't want to rent their cars to strangers, Zimmer wrote.

In the first five or more years following the introduction of autonomous vehicles, the need for human drivers will actually increase, not decrease, wrote Zimmer. “As more people trade their keys for Lyft, the overall market will grow dramatically. When autonomous cars can only solve a portion of those trips, more Lyft drivers will be needed to provide service to the growing market of former car owners,” according to Zimmer.

A report published in Tech Crunch informed, "The Medium post from the Lyft exec articulates a vision of the future that would see most of the rides on Lyft’s network of cars handled autonomously by 2021. By 2025, Zimmer anticipates that personal car ownership, specifically in U.S. urban areas, will essentially be a thing of the past as denizens opt to use shared vehicle networks."

“I wanted to write a long piece because this is the stuff we’ve been working about almost 10 years now when we started Zimride in 2007,” Zimmer told me in an interview. “There are a lot of marketing stunts happening where you put a few cars on the road, or you make announcements and press releases, but the thing that nobody’s talking about is you have this once-every-hundred-year opportunity to – if we work with the right stakeholders – to actually impact how our cities work.”

“You have cities that are mistakenly designed for cars, that are majority paved. I think about things in terms of occupancy,” Zimmer explained, noting that his college education was in hospitality management, so he thinks about the issue in those terms. “If you think about ground transportation, 96 percent of the time the car is parked, that’s like a horrible, horrible business. American spend more money on cars than they do on food, and the thing is parked 96 percent of the time […] and it takes up a large amount of city infrastructure.”


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