Lyft unveils self-driving car service in Las Vegas (with caveats)

Self-driving car services are popping up across the country. But they are not what they seem. The latest example is an improved servic...


Self-driving car services are popping up across the country. But they are not what they seem.

The latest example is an improved service in Las Vegas from ride-sharing company Lyft.

On Tuesday, the company said it would allow users to hail a new type of self-driving car on and around the Las Vegas Strip, building on a similar service it has offered in the city for four years. But the news comes with an important caveat: These vehicles will come with two of what the industry calls safety drivers, who will take control of the car if something goes wrong.

The technology and automotive industries spent much of the last decade promising cars that would drive the streets on their own. But many years, perhaps even decades, will pass before truly autonomous vehicles are commonplace. Although large companies have made significant progress, spreading the technology to the masses remains a painstaking process.

“No autonomy system is ready to be deployed safely, at high volume, in urban environments,” said Schuyler Cullen, who oversaw a team that explored autonomous driving possibilities at the southern tech giant. Korean Samsung and who now runs a startup building. a new type of camera for self-driving cars.

Earlier this year, three more companies introduced self-driving services in San Francisco, Miami and Austin, Texas. All said that these services would not include safety drivers. And, in at least some cases, these cars are now driverless. But they are only accessible to a few riders, many of whom are friends or family members of company employees.

Journalists are not allowed to use these services without a driver behind the wheel.

As it stands, only one fully public service operates without security drivers. Waymo, owned by Google’s parent company, offers driverless service in suburban Phoenix, where the roads are wide, the weather is predictable and pedestrians are few.

Even as new services expand to places like San Francisco, they come with some important caveats. They will only be available in very restricted areas. They will run at speeds below 35 or 40 miles per hour. They will stop in case of bad weather. And companies will employ technicians who can take control of the car remotely in the event of a problem.

Karl Iagnemma, chief executive of Motional, the company that will operate Lyft’s self-driving cars in Las Vegas, said that’s to be expected. “The technology needed for autonomous driving is extremely complicated,” he said. “The solution will be found gradually.”

Mr. Iagnemma points out that, unlike other services, anyone can ride the Motional cars that Lyft offers in Las Vegas. The cars will be more advanced than those Lyft has been using in the city since 2018, and the two companies have developed a new app that can be used to open car doors.

Mr Iagnemma said the company’s newest cars are “a pathway to a driverless system” that Lyft and Motional plan to unveil next year.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Lyft unveils self-driving car service in Las Vegas (with caveats)
Lyft unveils self-driving car service in Las Vegas (with caveats)
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