AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Lyft users can now let robots take the wheel. Starting Thursday, the rideshare app offered customers the choice to hail a ride from one of their autonomous vehicles for the same price as a regular ride.
Lyft has partnered with Argo AI to put their autonomous Ford Escape Hybrids on the streets. Austin is the second city where the company has offered driverless rides after Miami, which launched the service in December 2021.
If a Ford AV is available, customers will be able to select the option on the Lyft mobile app. When the vehicle arrives, the rider can unlock the doors via the app to begin their ride.
The self-driving option will be offered during daytime business hours for now.
If stepping into a robot car alone sounds terrifying, rest assured, for now, the vehicles will be occupied by two safety operators that monitor the ride.
Argo and Lyft have not stated when they plan to remove the safety operators, but the company has been testing fully-autonomous rides without customers since May.
Besides being the tech capital of Texas, the regulatory environment of Austin makes it relatively amenable to robotaxi services.
A 2017 law makes it possible for autonomous vehicles to be used on streets and highways so long as they follow traffic laws, utilize video recording and have insurance like other cars. The manufacturers are liable for any broken traffic laws or collisions.