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Lyft still sees a place for human drivers in an autonomous fleet

There are certain things that self-driving cars just can't do.
Swapna Krishna, @skrishna
August 14, 2017
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The prospect of self-driving cars is particularly concerning to people who make their living by driving, whether it's a taxi or working for Uber or Lyft. Companies such as Lyft have made no secret about being interesting in adding autonomous vehicles to their fleets. But where does this leave their human drivers? Lyft's product director Taggart Matthiesen told Recode that while the company is focusing on self-driving tech, they will always employ people as drivers.

Matthiesen explains that the company already has an advisory board that is working on how human drivers will fit into a vision of a driverless fleet. Humans can do things that self-driving cars simply cannot, such as help with suitcases or assist passengers with mobility impairments. He explained, "There are things we're doing beyond getting a passenger from point A to point B, additional services that we as a company can look at."

Still, it's likely that eventually that most of Lyft's drivers will eventually be replaced by self-driving tech. Last month, the company announced they were opening a research division in Palo Alto focused exclusively on autonomous vehicles. Human drivers may serve more of a concierge function, taking on passengers that need extra help, while self-driving cars will likely take on the bulk of straightforward rides.

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