It took several months, but Lyft and nuTonomy have made good on their promise to test autonomous ridesharing cars in Boston. The two have launched a pilot program that gives “select” Seaport-area passengers a ride in one of nuTonomy’s self-driving Renault cars. If you’re one of the few to hop in (the Lyft app will make it obvious), your feedback will help refine the system to make sure it’s both comfortable and safe.
This is as much a tech demo as it is a trial run. Lyft and nuTonomy aren’t shy about using the Boston experiment to help you “better understand the impact” of self-driving cars — that is, to sell you on the concept so that you’ll be a customer when driverless cars dominate. Marketing strategy aside, it’s still an important step for everyone involved. NuTonomy may see the most benefit as it improves its navigation systems, but it also gives Lyft an opportunity to integrate driverless cars into its service. And of course, that first contact for passengers could reduce fears and (eventually) make self-driving cars a mainstay of daily life.