Season 5 — Smarter Cars Podcast

Mid-Season Recap of Interviews

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We’re midway through Season 5 of the podcast. In case you missed any episodes, here’s a quick peek at the interviews so far:

Jody Kelman Director of Product Management, Lyft’s Self-Driving Platform

We discuss Lyft’s two-pronged approach to autonomous vehicles. Lyft has partnerships with Aptiv in Las Vegas and Waymo in Arizona, where partner vehicles are made available with safety drivers on Lyft’s platform as an option riders can choose. And Lyft is also building its own autonomous driving system through its division called Level 5.

Jody discusses why Lyft is pursuing both strategies simultaneously, noting it is part of Lyft’s ethos of working collaboratively to move forward in all directions.

“I think of this as as probably the most difficult problem that my generation has had to solve, and we simply don’t believe anyone is going to be able to solve this by going it alone. So it is going to be this kind of very heavy, three-way collaboration between regulators in cities, industry players and then consumers, who are also very much a part of this adoption story.”

Jody notes that the partnerships in Las Vegas and Arizona are designed to learn how self-driving cars operate on a rideshare platform and how passengers interact with the vehicles. She notes that after a few minutes the ride is just a regular ride and the novelty of self-driving wears off.

“I think those of us who’ve written in self driving cars would say, yeah, they are the best ride your grandmother ever gave you.”

She explains they are not pushing the edges of autonomy with passengers in the car, they leave that for test vehicles, and instead are looking to expose the technology to consumers and get feedback.

As for Lyft’s Level 5 division, Jody notes:

“We weren’t confused that we were a little bit late to this game. But what we knew was that, what we are able to do is really take advantage of what we have that frankly other players in the market don’t, which is a fleet out on the road today.”

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Michele Kyrouz

writer | lawyer | author of The New Mobility Handbook | host of Smarter Cars podcast