Lyft Sees Most Of Its Rides To Be In Self-Driving Cars Within 5 Years

The majority of trips in ridesharing service Lyft will be in autonomous vehicles within five years.

That’s the word from Lyft co-founder and president John Zimmer in a blog he posted in Medium.

If that does come about, there will be plenty of free time of passengers to be entertained and marketed to while going from point A to point B.

Earlier this year, Lyft connected with General Motors, which decided to invest $500 million in the ride-sharing service.

This could be partly savvy investing or a strategically protective move on the part of the automaker. With annual sales revenue of more than $150 billion, General Motors has a lot to protect.

The Lyft leader argues that private car ownership will all but vanish in major U.S. cities by 2025. Zimmer suggests that when Internet-connected cars come along in full force, markets will change.

“When networked autonomous vehicles come onto the scene, below the cost of car ownership, most city-dwellers will stop using a personal car altogether,” says Zimmer.

Zimmer cites a few analogies to what he sees as the coming shift in automobile behaviors.

“Technology has redefined entire industries around a simple reality: you no longer need to own a product to enjoy its benefits,” says Zimmer. “With Netflix and streaming services, DVD ownership became obsolete. Spotify has made it unnecessary to own CDs and MP3s. Eventually, we’ll look at owning a car in much the same way.”

Owning a car will go the way of the DVD by 2025, according to Zimmer. Until then, during the next five to 10 years, he projects there will be both driver and driverless cars on the road, essentially a hybrid network.

The transition to autonomous driving will not occur overnight, says Zimmer.

“We are currently in the first of three phases, and will be until vehicles can be operated without any human intervention. The second, or hybrid period will be defined by a mix of limited capability autonomous vehicles operating alongside human-driven ones.

“At first, fully autonomous cars will have a long list of restrictions,” says Zimmer. “They will only travel at low speeds, they will avoid certain weather conditions and there will be specific intersections and roads that they will need to navigate around.

“As technology improves, these cars will be able to drive themselves in more and more situations. Hypothetically, Lyft could initially have a fleet of autonomous cars that completes rides under 25 miles per hour on flat, dry roads. Then, we could upgrade the fleet to handle rides under those same conditions, but at 35 miles per hour. Until every kind of trip can be completed by an autonomous car.”

As connected cars become more automated, opportunities will arise for brands and marketers, since the people in those cars will have less to do around the operation of the vehicle.

“There are many concepts for what the inside of self-driving cars will ultimately look like,” says Zimmer. “Will they have couches and TV screens? Will happy hour take place with friends on the ride back from work? When our children say, “Are we there yet?” will the car respond?”

The technology to make cars more automated and even self-driving is well underway on many fronts.

This doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a mass consumer desire craving such cars, as many readers have pointed out here in the past.

Meanwhile, Lyft is pushing this along, at least for its share-riding cars.

And then there’s Uber.

12 comments about "Lyft Sees Most Of Its Rides To Be In Self-Driving Cars Within 5 Years".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics, September 20, 2016 at 8:59 a.m.

    What's next, you ask? No problemo. It's automated shoes. Yep. They are on the way and we estimate that by 2022 50.45% of all Americans will be using them. At first, there may be restrictions---like no high heels for women, certain sidewalks off limits, no running, etc. but can you imagine how great it will be to put on a pair of automated shoes and tell them where you want to go--then enjoy the trip while tweeting to your friends about the great experience.

  2. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin replied, September 20, 2016 at 9:16 a.m.

    Very clever, Ed. Th car may beat them to market, though.

  3. R MARK REASBECK from www.USAonly.US replied, September 20, 2016 at 9:46 a.m.

    Nice play ED,
    let's call them.............Ped-I-Cure.   They will cure the common problem for a lot of people who can't walk and chew gum.  These New Ped-I-Cures, will take the worry and inconvienience about placing one foot in front of the other, which has plagued man for , well forever.  We need this technology, just like the other dumb idea of self-driving cars.   How many people will have lost a job in the interest of technology?  People still need to have an income in order to use Lyft.  Look at how many degreed people out there are stuck at the Olive garden!!!  just can't get behind, dpending on someone else for a ride.  Gotta have my Wheels, and I will be in control.

  4. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, September 20, 2016 at 10:02 a.m.

    At least based on the viewpoint of the head of Lyft, the idea of self-driving will first be introduced by someoene else self-driving, not the current, car-owning consumer. Many of the tests going on invovle taxi-like services. What we're watching for is what happens within the time ultimately made available to the passenger and how advertising/marketing is involved at that stage.

  5. R MARK REASBECK from www.USAonly.US , September 20, 2016 at 11:27 a.m.

    so for the rider what has changed?   If you take a bus, taxi, limo or shuttle, you don't pay attention to driving.   The only thing now is someone is out of a job, and the passenger has no one to talk to, and billions spent on technology to perform this.  This must be a Liberal agenda. Liberals are always looking for something free, no matter how much it costs someone else.

  6. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics, September 20, 2016 at 11:42 a.m.

    Chuck, if they are going to wait for teens and very young adults to lead the way for driverless cars---even if that's a likely outcome, which I doubt---it's going to be a long wait. I may be wrong---it happens---but it seems to me that the ideal customer for this wonderful idea is a wealthy oldster who regards driving as a chore or even a risk and would rather use an automated vehicle, rather than a 20-year-old who probably enjoys the power rush of driving a "hot" car.

  7. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin replied, September 20, 2016 at 12:27 p.m.

    That may be, Ed, only time will tell. The most current research shows that millennials and those after them are the current most interested lot, though far from any majorities.

  8. Bob Gordon from The Auto Channel, September 20, 2016 at 5 p.m.

    Imagine a world where the master control of the roads will or wont allow you to travel where and when you want to...that is what the SV boys are setting up ...scary isnt it...

  9. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin replied, September 20, 2016 at 5:09 p.m.

    Some cars already are starting to ship with connected technology to link the car to traffic lights so the driver (car) can know to slow in advance of a red light ahead, Bob.

  10. Chuck Lantz from, network replied, September 20, 2016 at 6:59 p.m.

    R. Mark: Just a friendly reminder; ... the "You damned librul kids get offa my lawn!" comments section is down the hall, and then a hard right.

  11. Benny Thomas from Rise&Shine&Partners replied, September 20, 2016 at 7:17 p.m.

    In what universe is the idea of automation destroying millions of jobs in order to benefit a small group of mega-rich investors a Liberal-Democratic idea? 

  12. R MARK REASBECK from www.USAonly.US replied, September 20, 2016 at 8:57 p.m.

    People just don't get how much "freedom" you will give up for the "thrill" of riding in a car...........but not driving it . Boring beyond imagination. "Amtrack II coming to asphalt near you, a train wreck of Biblical proportions "
    (the liberal comment was just to stir up the pot, but I will take the hard right, now)

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