Surveys show nearly three-quarters of Americans are afraid to ride in fully self-driving vehicles. But Lyft, in a Las Vegas pilot project, has found significantly less resistance to self-driving rides from everyday customers.
More than 80 percent of people accept rides in the company’s self-driving vehicles when presented with a choice between autonomous and human-driven vehicles, according to Jody Kelman, director of product management for Lyft’s self-driving platform. Of those, she says, 96 percent are willing to ride in a self-driving vehicle again.
The numbers support a broad industry hope that people will embrace self-driving technology once they’re exposed to it.
Lyft, working with Aptiv, has offered more than 50,000 rides to everyday customers on its ride-hailing network. Human safety drivers remain present in the vehicles.
One of the company’s key findings: Customers largely don’t care whether their drivers are automated or human.
“We weren’t sure if customers would feel completely different about it versus a normal Lyft,” Kelman said. “What we found is these riders are just like the rest of them. Consumers’ needs don’t change dramatically, and that’s the insight that’s informing the rest of the work we’re doing.”