If I may attempt to summarize the current state of Uber/Lyft according to their PR departments: Of course the companies can’t reach their full potential while the services rely on sentient autonomous fleshbags that drive their own cars. But once these companies have their own fleets of fully autonomous vehicles and are free of the need for pesky human operators the money will really start rolling in.
And how’s that going?
In the capital of a state with a very self-driving car friendly governor some few, some lucky few Lyft users will soon be able to take a ride in a driverless vehicle. Sort of.
Lyft riders in the Phoenix area will soon be able to summon one of Waymo’s self-driving minivans for a ride, the companies said Tuesday. It’s the culmination of a partnership that was first announced almost two years ago exactly.
To start out, just 10 vehicles will be available on Lyft’s app in the handful of towns around Phoenix. Lyft customers will have the option to select a ride in a Waymo self-driving car through the ride-hail company’s app. There will be safety drivers behind the wheel, much like with Waymo One, Alphabet’s commercial ride-hailing service.
Based on its FAQ, Waymo wants riders to consider this a driverless car experience with a human backup safety module.
Why are there people in Waymo cars besides the riders?
For now, trained drivers are in the cars to make sure our riders have a great experience and serve as a backup only. They are there to make sure this brand new traveling experience is as comfortable and convenient as possible.
Pay no attention to that man behind the steering wheel!
It’s easy to imagine how these people would have operated in late 1800s. They’d be out promoting their horseless carriages. That were hitched to horses and had a driver. But only as a backup in case the motor failed. And some Gilded Age scum would give them thousands of dollars.
Honestly, I’d find the entire enterprise less skeevy if they’d just say the technology isn’t there yet, they don’t know when it will be there, but in the meantime you can ride in a retrofitted car that mostly drives itself.
Also, if it wasn’t associated with companies that are earning money by exploiting people who drive for them in order to fund their automated auto schemes that is designed to make drivers obsolete. That would help a lot too.