The Third Transportation Revolution: Lyft Joins Autonomous Vehicles Arms Race

Lyft is joining the autonomous vehicles arms race. The transportation company—a North American rival of Uber who recently started a self-driving fleet project—wants to be a part of what CEO John Zimmer considers the “third transportation revolution.”

Citing the infamous car statistic that the average vehicle is used only 4% of the time, Zimmer says communities have been built around cars, which is an inherently inefficient design for cities when all those cars are parked 96% of the time.

“Imagine for a minute what our world could look like if we found a way to take most of these cars off the road,” Zimmer wrote in a Medium post. “It would be a world with less traffic and less pollution. A world where we need less parking — where streets can be narrowed and sidewalks widened. It’s a world where we can construct new housing and small businesses on parking lots across the country — or turn them into green spaces and parks. That’s a world built around people, not cars.”

Zimmer believes that autonomous vehicle fleets will become widespread and account for the majority of Lyft rides within five years. He also predicts that by  2025, private car ownership will “all but end in major US cities.” If these things come true, his third forecast will like also: that cities’ physical environment will change dramatically.

“We don’t have to keep building our country around car ownership. Technology has redefined entire industries around a simple reality: you no longer need to own a product to enjoy its benefits,” Zimmer writes. “A full shift to ‘Transportation as a Service’ is finally possible, because for the first time in human history, we have the tools to create a perfectly efficient transportation network.”