When COVID-19 first struck the U.S. and the rest of the world, much of daily life ground to a halt. As medical guidance to reduce the risk of transmission is becoming more consistent, many people are feeling more comfortable taking precautions and resuming some parts of daily life, including taking rideshare trips.
Lyft paused their self-driving vehicle division tests during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to an article in TechCrunch, Lyft will now restart their self-driving testing on California roads. The tests will begin with tests on a closed track in Palo Alto. So far, autonomous rides are not available on public roads.
Lyft Self-Driving Tests
Lyft's Level 5 program refers to the level of automation. The Society of Automotive Engineers classified 5 levels of autonomous vehicle automation:
- Level 1 - Driver Assistance
- Level 2 - Partial Automation
- Level 3 - Conditional Automation
- Level 4 - High Automation
- Level 5 - Full Automation
Level 5 full automation vehicles are supposed to be capable of performing all driving functions under all conditions.
Lyft self-driving began operation in July 2017 but took a while to get testing on public roads. In 2019, Lyft had 19 autonomous vehicle testing on public roads in California. Those vehicles traveled a combined 43,000 miles in self-driving mode.
Compared to some autonomous vehicle tests like Tesla and Waymo, Lyft is able to supplement their testing (like Uber) by using information from their regular rideshare drivers. Lyft collects data from Lyft drivers to create simulations, build 3D maps, and observe human driving patterns.
Lyft Rideshare Protections for Autonomous Test Drivers
Lyft determined it would re-open the tests, which require 2 on-board human operators, based on following CDC guidelines. Protective measures against the spread of COVID-19 include:
- Partitions to separate the two safety operators inside,
- Operators must wear face shields,
- Operators must submit to temperature checks, and
- Operators are paired together for two weeks at a time.
Unfortunately for passengers and riders of Lyft's standard rideshare service are not provided the same levels of protection, generally not provided a face shield, a full partition to separate all riders and drivers, or requiring temperature checks.
Dangers of Self-Driving Rideshare Vehicles
Self-driving rideshare vehicles may be a way to provide safer transportation for riders in the future. Autonomous vehicles can avoid some of the risks to unsuspecting rideshare passengers like:
- Rideshare driver violence
- Impaired rideshare drivers
- Distracted rideshare drivers
- Drowsy rideshare drivers
- Inexperienced rideshare drivers
- Speeding and violating traffic laws
However, the rollout of a large number of self-driving vehicles is still untested. There have been a number of fatal accidents involving self-driving vehicles and autopilot operation, including:
- In 2018, an Uber self-driving vehicle hit and killed a pedestrian walking across the street at night in Tempe, Arizona.
- In 2018, a husband and father standing on the side of the road was hit and killed by a Tesla on autopilot in Japan.
These fatal accidents often leave surviving family members dealing with the loss and the vehicle companies trying to blame the accident on someone else. A wrongful death lawsuit allows surviving family members to hold the negligent parties responsible for their actions.
If you have any questions about a fatal car accident that resulted in the death of a family member, you can consult with an experienced Denver auto accident lawyer. Please do not hesitate to contact accidentdenver.com today at 303-642-8888 for a free consultation. We are here waiting for you.