The race to the autonomous ride-sharing finish line just got a little bit tighter, as Lyft and self-driving tech company Aptiv said Tuesday that their Las Vegas-based taxis have completed 5,000 paid rides.
Lyft and Aptiv's trial is the first commercial, for-profit self-driving ride-share, although others such as Waymo in Arizona say they're not far from charging customers.
Despite Lyft’s status as the second-largest ride-sharing app, the Aptiv-powered fleet is somewhat small, with just 20 vehicles operating in Las Vegas around The Vegas Strip. Aptiv, a subdivision of global parts giant Delphi, uses a fleet of 75 autonomous-enabled BMW 5-Series vehicles for testing, which Lyft users in Vegas can hail just by opening the app and opting into the self-driving pilot. The partnership has already proven lucrative according to Reuters, as Lyft's product lead for self-driving cars Jody Kelman said both companies "are making money on this."
Like in many other autonomous test programs, the vehicles still use a trained backup driver to take over when necessary, but it’s mostly the car that gets rated by customers after the ride, yielding an average of 4.96 stars out of 5.
While Uber scales back its autonomous testing programs after the much-debated fatal crash in Arizona this March, Lyft continues to push forward, and Aptiv is finding uses for its technology in other vehicles too, including future FCA products like a semi-autonomous Jeep Grand Cherokee. As even grocery stores are getting into the game, it seems the autonomous revolution shows no signs of slowing in the near future.