Self-driving car technology is still in its infancy, but Lyft believes it will become the norm in under 10 years. In an essay published on Medium, company co-founder John Zimmer describes how a fleet of autonomous vehicles could put an end to car ownership in U.S. cities by 2025.
“I believe we’re on the cusp of nothing short of a transportation revolution,” Zimmer writes. “One that will shape the future of our communities.”
He argues that modern cities were designed for cars rather than people. Parking lots waste valuable space and wide roads take the place of public sidewalks and front yards. By making it cheaper to hail a self-driving car than own your own vehicle, Lyft and other companies can change the way U.S cities work.
Zimmer admits that it could be a while before self-driving cars take over. The technology still needs to improve and regulations need to adapt. In the meantime, we could see a hybrid network of autonomous vehicles and human drivers emerge. Eventually, it will be cheaper to rely on self-driving cars instead of owning a vehicle.
Lyft plans to offer a “Transportation as a Service” subscription option similar to Netflix or Spotify. You might one day pay a monthly fee and get unlimited autonomous car rides in return. Zimmer told The Verge that he also wants to offer various self-driving tiers, including cars designed specifically for sleeping or watching movies.
The company isn’t ready to pick up passengers with autonomous vehicles just yet, though it’s already testing some vehicles in San Francisco and Phoenix. Starting as soon as next year, Lyft plans to start offering autonomous rides along fixed routes. After that, it could expand to non-fixed rides under 25 miles per hour before eventually rolling out a fully autonomous system sometime in the early 2020s.