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In the now very public battle between ride sharing apps Lyft and Uber, stakeholders were shocked to hear that Lyft’s CEO John Zimmer believes that his app will feature self-driving cars by the year 2021.
Zimmer claims that most of his fleet will be autonomous in just 5 years time, and recently revealed his 10 year “third transportation revolution” rollout plan.
If everything goes as planned, Lyft will become an “on-demand network of autonomous vehicles” which mirrors rival company Uber’s plan. Uber has already started testing their driverless vehicles in Pittsburgh. These “driverless” cars still have an operator in the passenger seat as a precautionary measure.
“If you live in San Francisco or Phoenix, you may have seen these cars on the road, and within five years a fully autonomous fleet of cars will provide the majority of Lyft rides across the country,” Zimmer said.
While Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk predicts that society is evolving towards sharing privately owned cars with strangers, Zimmer disagrees. He stated that he believes a new era of commuting is coming and that private vehicle ownership will “all but end” in the coming decades. He compared his theory to the music industry, citing the preference for music sharing and streaming services like Pandora over purchasing CDs.
When asked to describe the user experience in one of his new autonomous vehicles, he equated it to a “bar car” – think couches, TVs and even happy hour? The possibilities are endless according to Zimmer.
This evolution in transportation is set to change the face of commuting as we know it, with cars taking up less space on the roads and traffic jams becoming a thing of the past. Parking lots will be non-existent and all of the space dedicating to vehicles can be repurposed.
Zimmer’s opinion is that all of this space is a waste and that 96% of a car’s life is spent stationary. “In 2011, researchers estimated that there are at least 700 million parking spaces in the US. That means our country has more than 6,000 square miles of parking — bigger than my home state of Connecticut.”
Does Lyft have what it takes to change the face of ridesharing and public transportation as we know it? Will privately owned vehicles be phased out by luxury ride-sharing services? Only time will tell, and we look forward to seeing what takes shape in the next decade.