For the co-founder of Lyft, the autonomous car is still a long way off


John Zimmer is not just anyone in the automotive world. Co-founder of the Lyft platform, he is one of the first defenders of the autonomous car. But despite this desire for innovation, he keeps his feet on the ground. For him, human drivers still have good years ahead of them.

“I can’t imagine a time in the next decade when we would need fewer drivers. » He nevertheless hypothesized that 1 to 10% of his company’s journeys would be made with self-driving cars in the coming years.

According to him, Lyft’s growth remains higher than that of the self-driving car market. Over the last ten years, more than five million people have taken the wheel for a Lyft trip for 112 million passengers and 3 billion trips. The San Francisco company is one of the most popular VTC solutions in the world.

Lyft and the autonomous car, see you in 10 years

Asked about the future of self-driving cars, Zimmer didn’t want to take any chances. He considers the market too unstable to be predictable. According to him, the technological barrier has not been completely overcome, and even when this is done, it will be necessary to reduce the costs considerably to interest a large audience.

“I firmly believe that it is not a question of if, but obviously of when. » Zimmer says he should be one of the first to give self-driving cars a shot. For him, it is solutions like Lyft or Uber that will first offer autonomous cars.

Because if the latter are able to cover 10 to 15% of the journeys without danger, they still do not understand all the variables to be taken into account on the road. Lyft or Uber could therefore build a “hybrid network” where the simplest journeys will be made by autonomous cars.

Lyft: partnerships rather than R&D

In his example, he assures “only one trip in 10” will be done in the future with autonomous cars. One thing is certain, Zimmer knows very well what he is talking about when he brings up the subject of self-driving cars. In April 2021 his company Lyft sold its self-driving unit to a subsidiary of Toyota for $550 million.

During the sale, Zimmer explained this by emphasizing “partnerships” rather than in-house operations. It would have been very costly for the young company. So the idea is to let the big names in the automotive industry do the R&D work while Lyft picks up the finished product in a few years.

This strategy allows Zimmer to see how the market is changing and prevents it from going off the rails in developing a technology. “Today there is no winner, but in 10 years who knows? »

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