Riding Lyft’s autonomous car from CES into the future


You hail a self-driving Lyft the exact same way you hail a normal one: Push a button and a car picks you up. In this case, it’s a BMW “driven” by Aptiv’s proprietary software and 365-degree sensors (a combo of lasers, cameras, radars, GPS, wireless coms and more). A female voice announces lane changes, while a video screen shows the car moving through its environment in real time: Cars and pedestrians appear as blue ghosts. (There’s also a human in the driver’s seat, just in case.)

Despite Tuesday’s rain, CES’ Lyft-Aptiv demo rides were so popular, people were waiting outside for nearly an hour to try one. Was it worth the wait? Kind of. The tech is already so smooth, the ride didn’t feel different than any other. I had to keep peeking at the front seat to remind myself that, yes, the human’s hands weren’t touching the wheel.

Driving home in the old Honda Civic, I was suddenly aware of my own human fallibility. I am but a mere mortal who gets tired, frustrated and distracted while driving. I have so many blind spots, while the computer is infinitely patient, ever alert and practically omniscient. Aptiv won’t be ready to scale production until next year. For me, that can’t come soon enough. Bring on our computer overlords before we all die in fiery crashes!

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