Ride-sharing service Lyft says it plans to test self-driving vehicles on the streets of San Francisco, offering free rides to customers in exchange for their participation in the test. The company has long shared rival Uber’s ambitions of self-driving rideshare vehicles, and the latest plan is a significant step toward that goal.
In a partnership with self-driving technology startup Drive.ai, the cars won’t be devoid of a driver. A human in the driver’s seat will monitor the self-driving system for any errors, and will intervene if necessary.
Much like with Uber’s tests in Phoenix, passengers must opt-in to participate in the program. They will receive a prompt asking if they agree to take a ride in a semi-autonomous car before being assigned a vehicle from the trial pool.
These cars aren’t fully self-driving, and will be operating in an area that’s already been mapped out in very high detail, making this an evolutionary step toward the driverless car of the future rather than a giant leap. Still, Lyft and Drive.ai will gain crucial data as the cars begin to interact with the infinite variables in the world around them.