Lyft Offers Argo AI Robotaxis in AustinLyft Offers Argo AI Robotaxis in Austin
It’s the first time a commercial autonomous service has been offered in the city
October 5, 2022
Users of the ride-hailing service Lyft can now order an autonomous vehicle in Austin, Texas.
Austin becomes the third U.S. location where Lyft riders can hail an autonomous ride, following a similar arrangement with Argo AI in Miami, Florida that launched in late 2021, and a tie-up with Motional in Las Vegas that is using the Boston-based company’s self-driving Hyundai IONIQ 5s.
Lyft is the only company to offer such a service in three different North American cities.
According to a blog post on the Lyft website, riders in Austin will be able to order an AV in the same manner they would a conventional car via the company’s app, and it will be for the same price as a “normal” ride.
Lyft says riders will be able to easily control their ride without the assistance of a driver. When the Ford arrives, the rider can unlock the doors, start their trip and even contact customer support, all from within the Lyft app.
However, although the car will drive itself, for the time being, it will be accompanied by two safety operators, as Lyft continues its preparations to deliver a fully autonomous service.
The news in itself is not a major surprise with Lyft and Argo AI first making their plans public at the start of this year.
But the recent announcement by AV rival Cruise, owned by General Motors, that it received approval to operate a fully driverless robotaxi service in Austin by the end of the year has perhaps given the plans a fresh sense of urgency.
Cruise is already running a fare-charging fleet of driverless robotaxis in San Francisco and has confirmed its intention to also start operations in Phoenix, Arizona.
It is not yet clear how many self-driving Ford Escapes will be available to Lyft customers in Austin, at what hours they will operate and for how long the company intends to deploy safety monitors. But Argo AI has been running driverless trials of its vehicles in the city, and in Miami, since May.
And earlier this year, Motional made clear that its Las Vegas service with Lyft should be fully driverless by 2023.
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