Earlier this year, Waymo launched Waymo One, which provides self-driving cars in the Phoenix Metropolitan area. The service has provided autonomous cars equipped with a safety operator for over a thousand customers, helping them successfully complete daily tasks. Now, Waymo wants to take this service a step further.
Waymo announced that over the next few months, it will activate ten autonomous vehicles under the Lyft ridesharing platform. Customers can choose a Waymo self-driving car directly from the Lyft app and experience it first-hand. This is one of the first major deployments of autonomous taxis and provides a massive first step in advancing public usage of self-driving vehicles.
Initially, vehicles will have a safety operator to alleviate any safety concerns. To expand the popularity of autonomous cars, Waymo knows the importance of ensuring the comfort of its passengers.
“Waymo and Lyft share a commitment to make our roads safer and transportation more accessible, and John, Logan, and the entire Lyft team are fantastic partners for us as we continue to scale our business,” Waymo CEO John Krafcik wrote in a blog post on Medium. “We’re excited to collaborate with the Lyft team as we build the World’s Most Experienced Driver™, bringing fully self-driving technology to the world to improve road safety and make it easier for people to get around.”
Technology companies are racing to be the pioneers and innovators in autonomous vehicles. General Motors Company has been actively developing its autonomous branch, GM Cruise, and it announced last week that it has raised an additional $1.2 billion.
The reasons for automation are endless. Uber, Lyft, GM, and Waymo have all expressed their beliefs in the staying power of self-driving cars. To put it simply, they believe it’s the future of driving. And although some opponents of the technology raise safety concerns, there is incredible upside potential to autonomous cars.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted a study of autonomous technology and found some shocking statistics about its benefits. 94 percent of crashes occur because of human error, so automation has the potential to reduce the number of these accidents.
In 2010, crashes cost $242 billion in economic activity and $594 billion due to loss of life, meaning it also impacts consumers not involved in the crashes.
Plus, automation helps citizens with mobility. With over 102 million people either disabled or over the age of 65, the country has citizens that do not have an efficient or cost-effective way of getting around. Autonomous technologies would eliminate this problem on a large scale.
Photo courtesy of Waymo