Lyft’s CEO says that within five years, the majority of the company’s rides will be delivered through a network of self-driving vehicles.
“Last January, Lyft announced a partnership with General Motors to launch an on-demand network of autonomous vehicles,” said John Zimmer in a Medium post on Sunday.
“If you live in San Francisco or Phoenix, you may have seen these cars on the road, and within five years a fully autonomous fleet of cars will provide the majority of Lyft rides across the country.”
Zimmer also predicted that mass ownership of cars in large cities would “all-but end” within nine years and cast the company as central to that transformation.
He said that he expects autonomous cars to roll out over time, as the technology behind the vehicles becomes more capable. He said that early models on the road will be limited by weather and speed restrictions but that the vehicles will become more prevalent over the years.
The regulatory environment around self-driving cars, which is seen as potentially limiting the deployment of the vehicles, went unmentioned. Lyft is part of a coalition of companies working on self-driving cars that has pushed for the federal government to help avoid a patchwork of state laws on the issue.
Zimmer did, however, push back against the idea that self-driving cars will have an immediate effect on the employment of drivers who have made ride-hailing a growing business.
“When autonomous cars can only solve a portion of those trips, more Lyft drivers will be needed to provide service to the growing market of former car owners,” he said.
The chief executive’s comments come after Uber, Lyft’s chief rival and the dominant player in the ride-hailing market, began testing its own self-driving vehicles in Pittsburgh, Pa., to significant media attention. Some riders in the city will now be randomly matched with a self-driving car — which will have a driver behind the wheel in case the car cannot handle a section of the trip.