Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Samuel Alioto
Observer Staff Writer 

All Cars Will Be Driverless in 5 Years. Autonomous Cars Will Replace Humans, Says Lyft Founder

In a bold predcition, Zimmer of Lyft predicts robots will replace drivers by 2022.


September 26, 2016

Gneral Motors has announced that it will launch its first autonomous car through Lyft.

In Total Recall, where Arnold Schwarzenegger calls a Johnnie Cab as his get away vehicle. It doesn't understand quickly enough that Arnold wants to go "anywhere!", so he pushes down the robot and takes control of the car himself. Later, when Arnold stiffs it on the fare, Robot Johnnie blows up the cab. Clearly, the tension between robots and the drivers they replaced was foreseen.

Total recall is set in 2084, but according to John Zimmer, the co-founder and CEO of Lyft, this future will be upon us much sooner than that. Like 62 years sooner. As in 60 months from now, about the term of the typical car lease.

On Saturday, Zimmer posted a blog that Lyft drivers will be replaced by autonomous vehicles within five years. He went further than that, to predict that private car ownership will all but end by 2025.

Zimmer wrote, "We see car ownership as a burden that is costing the average American $9,000 every year. The car has actually become more like a $9,000 ball and chain that gets dragged through our daily life. Owning a car means monthly car payments, searching for parking, buying fuel, and dealing with repairs."

Vehicular automation involves the use of mechatronics, artificial intelligence, and multi-agent system to assist a vehicle's operator. These features and the vehicles employing them may be labeled as intelligent or smart. A vehicle using automation for difficult tasks, especially navigation, may be referred to as semi-autonomous. A vehicle relying solely on automation is consequently referred to as robotic or autonomous. After the invention of the integrated circuit, the sophistication of automation technology increased. Manufacturers and researchers subsequently added a variety of automated functions to automobiles and other vehicles.

Lyft has teamed up with General Motors, while its much larger rival Uber started giving rides in autonomous Ford Fusions in Pittsburgh last week. The Uber cars being used aren't fully autonomous, keeping a driver at the ready to take over when needed. But that is regarded as a mere "lead in technology."

Historically, American workers don't like it when their jobs are taken away by machines. Lyft and it's larger rival, UBer, face resistance from drivers they plan to replace. A group of 35,000 Uber drivers in New York last week promise a fight "the likes of which they have yet to see" if Uber tries to bring self-driving cars to that city.

Gneral Motors has announced that it will launch its first autonomous car through Lyft.

Zimmer, 32, writes that the shift to autonomous driving is inevitable. Younger people, he points out, are simply choosing not to drive. Americans born since 1982 are about 30 percent less likely to buy a car than those born before that year, he points out.

Lyft has garnered $2 billion from investors who include GM, Andreessen Horowitz and Peter Thiel's Founders Fund. It reportedly recently sought a price of about $9 billion from potential buyers.

Uber is by far the most highly valued venture-backed private business in history, figured to be worth about $68 billion. It has raised about $8.7 billion from investors who include Morgan Stanley, Google Ventures, Benchmark and Menlo Ventures. Part of this valuation is that autonomous vehicles are seen by virtually all futurists, as the future of transportation.


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