I’m leaving my hotel in America and open up the LYFT app. After requesting a car, it immediately said I was chosen for an autonomous vehicle. My mum screaming NO NO NO in the background, but she was too late… I had already hit accept. What would it be like, I wondered. Would anyone be in the car? A few minutes later a saucy BMW 540I rocks up with red rims and APTIV written across it. This has to be my lyft. I jump into the back and to my disappointment there are two people sitting in the front. They quickly inform us that we aren’t allowed to take photos or videos. In the front, we have a normal driver who has to manually drive when “off main streets and in suburbs”, and next to the driver is the flipping engineer who designed the programme. Throughout our 6 minute drive, the engineer was explaining the process and constantly proving how SAFE the car was. I was already on board – my mother, however, not so much.
There was a large screen on the dash that reminded me on the Matrix and showed the coding of everything around the car as picked up in the sensors on the outside of the car. The APTIV car even knew when an impatient driver was going to cut the car off. The duo said it would be at least another five years before it became common among other cars in the US and another ten years before it would reach New Zealand. On one hand, can technology hurry up. On the other hand, actually have all of the glitches/crashes/hacks in US before coming to our Kiwi shores. The software company APTIV created the technology and blessed a random BMW with the power of autonomy. They have not partnered with any car brand, but they have teamed up with LYFT to convince consumers that they are safe and developing this new norm in transport.
I found this video online of the same car I was in as part of the LYFT partnership. CHECK IT OUT FOR YOURSELF! P.S – you have to have a 4.8 rating on LYFT to even be considered for autonomous cars.