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Lyft and Aptiv surpass 5,000 paid self-driving trips
Aptiv deployed a fleet of self-driving cars on Lyft's ride-hailing service network in Las Vegas, Nevada (United States) in January. A test run occurred around the CES exhibition in January, but the programme became open to the public on 3 May. According to various media reports, Lyft has completed more than 5,000 paid rides with the self-driving vehicles since the programme was launched. The vehicles used are all BMW sedans and there are about 20 pick-up and destination locations around the city of Las Vegas. A Reuters report states that neither Lyft nor Aptiv was willing to provide financial details. The self-driving taxi service's users are charged the same price as for a normal ride. Jody Kelman, product lead for Lyft's self-driving platform, is quoted as saying that both companies are making money on the programme. Kelman also reportedly said that the riders who have rated the service using the Lyft app have given it a 4.96 average rating.
Significance: The figures on the service suggest reasons for optimism over the early results, though the service currently uses two safety drivers in each of the Aptiv vehicles. It remains unclear how comfortable the riders are with the service, but the figures suggest they may not have any difficulty with the idea of not having a driver in the vehicle. The programme is strictly geo-fenced and the self-driving vehicles are only sent along certain routes. Lyft network users have to opt-in to the programme, and if they are assigned a self-driving vehicle, opt-in a second time. According to reports, Aptiv has 75 cars being tested in the Las Vegas area, but only 20 are picking up Lyft passengers. The Verge.com reports that the partnership is hoping to add 10 more vehicles in the coming weeks, along with new destinations. The project is enabling both companies to learn and gather data on customer reaction and interaction with self-driving vehicles, as well as Aptiv further developing its self-driving system. Lyft is working on its own system, though it has not indicated when it might be available to the general public. Aptiv has earlier acquired Nutonomy, which is operating in the US city of Boston, as well as in Singapore. Reuters reports that Aptiv and Nutonomy are working to integrate their systems. While the Aptiv-Lyft project is not the only test programme on self-driving vehicles picking up consumers, it is the first to accept payments. The programme also demonstrates one potential business model for non-OEMs to create a sustainable business involving the new technology. Aptiv has also partnered with Hertz to handle the maintenance and management of the fleet of vehicles.
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