Autonomous Shared Vehicles – a good thing?

Autonomous shared vehicles are already on the road in a number of cities in the United States.

Lyft has provided 50,000 automated rides to paying passengers in Las Vegas, Nevada over the past year, with an average rating of 4.97 out of 5!

92% of passengers said they felt ‘very safe’ or ‘extremely safe’ during their trip – although the presence of a ‘safety driver’ behind the wheel would have influenced that result!

Lyft partnered with vehicle technology firm Aptiv to launch the service which can be ‘hailed’ using the Lyft app.

Thirty modified BMW540i cars are being used in the service, fitted with Aptiv sensors, cameras and software.

Lyft has also set up a partnership with Waymo to run a similar service in Phoenix Arizona.

Lyft says it is committed to making cities more liveable. They provide unlimited monthly plans which are very cost-effective, provide connections to transit, hence reducing the need to own or rely on a vehicle.

You might agree that automated shared vehicles will encourage a reduction in car ownership and make traffic in cities more efficient and safer. On the other hand this service may encourage people to travel more.

I think the connection to transit has real potential in regional areas, where is is not feasible to provide coverage with scheduled transit services – rather provide patronage-based line haul services and allow the private sector shared-services, maybe with some subsidy for segments of the community, to provide the connections.

What do you think?

PS. We will be discussing how to address transport challenges like this in the upcoming short course – see more information here.

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