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Lyft will begin offering rides in self-driving cars in the San Francisco Bay Area.
According to Reuters, the popular ride-hailing service is teaming up with fellow California start-up Drive.ai to bring autonomous vehicles to select travelers.
Drive.ai will supply the cars and the software while Lyft will offer its vast network of riders.
Only a limited number of self-driving cars will be available at first, and passengers will have to opt into the pilot program in order to participate. However, the rides will be free.
Although the car will drive itself, passengers won't be alone inside the vehicle. Each car will have a trained driver sitting in the front seat in the event that something goes wrong.
In a Medium post, Drive.ai pointed out that its "technology can handle a wide range of driving conditions that are notoriously difficult for self-driving vehicles, including various road environments, lighting conditions and inclement weather."
"We want to make sure the experience feels as much like an autonomous vehicle experience as possible," Drive.ai Co-founder and President Carol Reiley told Reuters.
The company will use the program to test and tweak its software while Lyft will be able to gauge riders' interest and reaction to the self-driving vehicles and hopefully optimize the experience further down the road.
Lyft's partnership with Drive.ai represents the company's latest foray into autonomous technology. In July, Lyft announced the launch of a new self-driving division and facility in Palo Alto where it expects to hire hundreds of engineers and build multiple labs and test spaces.
[READMORE]READ MORE: Autonomous Vehicles are Coming for Rentals[/READMORE]
While Lyft and its competitors, including Uber, have shown tremendous interest in developing and integrating self-driving technology, it remains to be seen whether the trend will ultimately catch on with travelers.
According to Allianz Global Assistance's Future of Travel survey, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of travelers aren't interested in trying out self-driving technology at the moment, citing safety concerns. However, the survey found that the same amount of travelers (64 percent) believe the technology will be safe enough to rely on some day down the road.
A Maryland native and wanderer who has lived across the U.S. from North Carolina to SoCal, Patrick Clarke graduated from Towson...
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