If you order a Lyft ride in Boston’s Seaport area in the near future, don’t be alarmed if the car shows up and the driver isn’t driving it. Thanks to its June 2017 partnership with nuTonomy, a tech company that specializes in self-driving systems, Lyft is launching a pilot project that fulfills the rides of “select passengers” in Boston using nuTonomy’s Renault Zoe — a modified electric vehicle that is capable of driving itself.
However, you should be alarmed if it shows up and there is no one in the driver’s seat. For safety, there will be nuTonomy engineers in all of the vehicles participating in the pilot.
According to a press release from nuTonomy, there is a twofold purpose to this pilot that is centered on the users' experience and their feedback. The first goal is to give people the chance to actually experience riding in a self-driving car for themselves. The second is for the users to provide useful feedback that will help nuTonomy improve its system.
Last year, Lyft President John Zimmer projected that by 2021 the majority of Lyft rides will be given by autonomous vehicles. Whether or not you think that to be a lofty prediction, this Boston pilot is evidence that Lyft fully intends to prove him right.