Don't panic, though--you don't have to trust an autonomous vehicle completely yet. If you get a ride from one of Lyft's self-driving vehicles, you can expect two human co-pilots in the front seat. The safety driver and operator monitor the vehicle systems and the surrounding environment, and are ready to manually take control in case of an emergency.
Lyft plans to roll out self-driving cars in phases, starting in Las Vegas, Nevada. Lyft users can sign up on the company's website for alerts as the feature rolls more broadly.
Adding self-driving vehicles to their fleet won't eliminate human drivers for now, according to Lyft's website.
"[W]e don't believe there will ever be a time when we have fewer drivers on the road than we do today," the company said.
Once the vehicles are available near you, ordering one is still as simple as it has always been. Open the app and enter your pickup and drop-off location. If a self-driving vehicle is available, Lyft will offer the option.
Lyft claims that self-driving cars already have a few advantages over human drivers. The high-tech cars have a 360-degree field of vision simultaneously, which eliminates blind spots. The longer the car drives, the more it learns to improve itself.
"Right now, we're combining the extraordinary abilities of self-driving software with the support of human drivers to create the safest possible experience," Lyft said.
To "see," the self-driving vehicles have a suite of sensors. For example, LiDAR uses light to make sense of the world similar to sonar technology for sound. The vehicles also use radar and optical video cameras. The obtained data is processed by computer vision algorithms to understand the surrounding environment. There will be a display screen in the vehicle that will show passengers everything that is taking place.
The self-driving vehicle's method of learning helps it to prepare and react to unexpected situations. In the event that the vehicle is unable to adapt, one of the trained co-pilots will take over.
For now, self-driving cars need a predetermined route to complete a trip. If a passenger's plans change, Lyft said they can cancel the ride, free of charge, and request another Lyft.
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- Lyft is giving rides in its self-driving vehicles at CES 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The company will expand to more areas in the future.
- The self-driving vehicles have multiple sensors and safety features in place, like two co-pilots who can manually take over in an emergency.
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