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By 2021, majority of rides will be in autonomous vehicles: Lyft President

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Autonomous vehicles are growing rapidly. With almost every other tech major working upon improving the technology, we are likely to see some major results in the future. However, Lyft President John Zimmer believes that the time when autonomous vehicles become a common sight, may come much sooner than our expectations.

Lyft President and co-founder John Zimmer released a 14-page document today in which he talked about the rise of autonomous vehicles and the changes that will accompany it. According to Zimmer, by 2021, a majority of rides on the Lyft network will be in autonomous vehicles. He also said that personal car ownership in US cities will be a thing of the past, by 2025.

Both these predictions are huge. According to the Lyft president, in less than a decade we will see a complete change in the way we travel. Not only will a significant percentage of our cars be driver-less, but car o wnership will undergo a drastic change too. He also talked about streets and parking spaces being used in other productive ways, such as for housing.

The document released by Lyft is titled “The Third Transportation Revolution: Lyft’s Vision for the Next Ten Years and Beyond”. And going by some of the facts that the Lyft President took time out to elaborate upon, it is actually revolutionary. Transportation will also radically change from now — with its boring, similar cars. There would be differently designed cars for different purposes, including a bar car to have fun in and a nap car to sleep in.

If you think of yourself as the consumer, I can offer you 10 different vehicle types on the Lyft platform. They all have amazing Virgin America cabins-slash-beautiful hospitality experience inside. There’s the private version if you want to do work on your ride, there’s the sleeper car if you want to take a nap, there’s the entertainment car if your friends and family want to watch movies, there’s the bar car to have fun with other people on your ride home.

So basically, cars at your beck and call but not actually you own — making stuff like parking, maintenance, cleaning someone else’s responsibility, while letting you travel around whenever you want.

Zimmer said Lyft, along with partner General Motors, was already testing autonomous vehicles in San Francisco and Arizona, however, a date for public trials hadn’t been decided upon quite yet. He also commented upon Elon Musk’s vision, in which the Tesla CEO had said that the transition to autonomous will come with people lending private cars to others.

Elon is right that a network of vehicles is critical, but the transition to an autonomous future will not occur primarily through individually owned cars. It will be both more practical and appealing to access autonomous vehicles when they are part of Lyft’s networked fleet.

Either way, driver-less cars are coming. With nearly every tech giant associated with the industry in one way or the other, and with Uber already piloting these self-driving vehicles in Pittsburgh, the era of cars which required an extra passenger, appears to be on the verge of passing.

However, as Zimmer said, there are a lot of things that will need to be straightened out — such as who would own this fleet of autonomous vehicles, what plans are being made for the drivers who are going to lose their jobs and how governments can slow or speed this process up — before this revolutionary concept becomes an actual reality.


A bibliophile and a business enthusiast.

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