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Lyft Begins Self-Driving Car Program

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Photo: Lyft

Friday, Lyft announced that it will be creating a self-driving car program, employing several hundred engineers, by 2018.

The operation is opening in Palo Alto, California in an effort to shift the automotive industry in a new direction. Car sharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, are making waves to change car ownership as we know it. If the progress continues as they suspect, car ownership will surrender itself to subscriptions to car-sharing (maybe even self-driving now) services like Lyft.

Luc Vincent, creator of Google Street View, is now Lyft’s vice president of autonomy. Vincent believes that the idea of self-driving car-sharing “is too strategic an area for us not to be a player. We want to take an active role.”

The timing of Lyft’s positive step forward comes at a perfect time in the world of competition. Its highest competitor, Uber, has been struggling with its image in the press as of late. “The Lyft brand is strong,” remarked Vincent. “We are caring, we’re nice people, we work with drivers and partners and passengers.”

Rather than eliminate the use of cars altogether, Lyft is hoping to partner with automotive manufacturers to make their vision a reality. According to USA Today, General Motors has already invested $500 million in the car-sharing company and has agreed to partner with them on the self-driving project.

Lyft’s decision to create a self-driving car program has its pros and cons. While this would be a great opportunity in the world of technology, it’s not so fun for all of the service’s drivers. With self-driving cars, employment at Lyft will decrease and many people will lose their jobs. But, it’s good for business. The company would save a good chunk of change by cutting their employment costs.

However, Lyft argues that this program will create employment in new areas of the company. “There will be new [employment] opportunities,” explained Raj Kapoor, Lyft’s chief strategy officer. “Including elderly care (in the vehicle), perhaps a cafe service within a car, or a concierge that travels with you.”

While this program is to begin as soon as next year, Lyft doesn’t expect the world to change overnight. The company anticipates a minimum of ten years before Lyft’s driver-occupied vehicles will see a substantial decrease.

News Source: USA Today