Lyft and Motional Are Making Autonomous Rides a Thing Right Now

Have you ever used a ride-sharing app or taken a taxi? One thing is for sure: there was a driver operating the vehicle.

The idea of autonomous automobiles has been around for decades, and we’ve been promised self-driving cars for a long time with little to show for it. Sure, there are experimental vehicles in different areas, but you can’t really access one of these cars for yourself.

Well, that is all changing now.

Lyft, in its partnership with Motional, has just announced a pilot program. They are going to run a public beta test of self-driving cars in a limited run. Anyone who is in the area can sign up for a ride, and it runs through the Lyft app, so there is no waitlist. 

If you have ever been excited about self-driving cars (or just getting through a ride without awkward small talk), the future is here. If this pilot program is successful, we’ll start seeing a lot more autonomous ride-sharing in the very near future, and self-driving cars might just be here to stay.

What Is the New Ride Share?

While the partnership between Lyft and Motional is not brand new (they first announced their joint forces in 2018), this particular ride-sharing opportunity is a new deal. There is now public access to autonomous, all-electric vehicles on the Lyft app.

The partnership is straightforward. Motional designed the autonomous driving technology that is deployed in a number of Hyundai Ioniq 5s. These vehicles are all-electric, and proprietary Motional technology is able to drive them without any human input.

Lyft manages the ride-sharing component. You can order one of these vehicles on the Lyft app. Using the same app, you can lock or unlock the doors and control comfort features during your trip.

While the current pilot program is seeing limited deployment, the companies have already announced plans to expand testing and access over the coming years. 

Where Can You Try It? 

For now, you will only find these autonomous electric vehicles in Las Vegas. The program is currently live, and if you’re in the area, you can order one of the cars.

Motional announced that the company has permits to test driverless anywhere in the state of Nevada, and it’s likely that the program will eventually extend beyond the city of Las Vegas. For now, the Vegas metro area is the primary focus, and that’s where you’ll have to be to try one of the rides.

Meanwhile, Motional does have testing programs in Singapore, Seoul, Boston, and Pittsburgh, but none of those involve a public-access program like the Lyft partnership that is live in Las Vegas. 

How Does It Work?

If you want to give autonomous ride-sharing a try (and you’re in Las Vegas), you can schedule a ride with the Lyft app. Simply open your app and look for the autonomous ride queue. 

For the remainder of the year, autonomous rides will still have a driver overseeing operations. Also, Lyft is making these rides free, so demand might be high. Especially if you’re trying to get a ride in a high-traffic area during a rush period, you might not be able to get into the autonomous queue. But, with patience, you can try out the new ride share for yourself.

Lyft has already announced plans to make the rides truly driverless sometime next year. That’s also when they will start charging for these rides. 

Until then, you have the chance to get in early, enjoy a free ride, and contribute to the testing that will help Lyft and Motional expand driverless vehicle access around the world. 



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