Lyft is planning a significant expansion of its autonomous autotest program. The company opens a new test facility, adds vehicles to its fleet and collects more test miles. Like rival Uber, Lyft believes that self-driving cars are the future of ride-on.
Lyft's self-driving cars now drive four times as many miles per quarter in autonomous mode as they did six months ago, Luc Vincent, Deputy General Manager of Lyft, president of autonomous driving, wrote in a blog post. The company is currently offering rides on employee test vehicles and, according to Vincent, the number of rides offered on these rides tripled last year.
Lyft opens in East Palo Alto a special test facility for self-driving cars, California. These include intersections, mergers, traffic lights and other road configurations, Vincent wrote. Lyft will continue testing at GoMentum Station, a third-party independent third-party auto test facility at a former military base in Concord, California, Vincent wrote. In closed courses, engineers can test cars in scenarios that are too dangerous for public roads or simply do not occur in everyday traffic.
In addition to expanding mileage and test sites, Lyft is expanding its fleet. Vincent wrote that the company will soon receive an unspecified number of Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans. A minivan offers more flexibility, and according to Vincent, Lyft wanted hybrid vehicles. The Pacifica is actually a plug-in hybrid and can therefore be connected like an electric car to an external charging station. This allows a larger battery, which in turn allows emission-free driving.
Waymo already uses the Pacifica Hybrid for its Waymo One ride-sharing service in Phoenix, Arizona, and it's easy to see why. In addition to lower emissions and lower fuel costs, the battery pack of a hybrid provides an important source of power for operating the sensors and computers that enable autonomous driving. That's why most companies currently developing autonomous driving technologies use hybrids, plug-in hybrids, or all-electric cars as test vehicles. You can still look forward to an autonomous Lyft ride. In Las Vegas, the company is partnering with Aptiv to offer rides on test cars to the public. The cars belong to Aptiv and use the technology of the company. However, drivers can approach them with the Lyft app.