From Wednesday, some passengers in Boston were able to hail a self-driving car through their Lyft rideshare app as part of a highly anticipated trial of autonomous vehicles in the city.
The pilot in Boston’s Seaport area is the product of a collaboration between San Francisco-based rideshare company Lyft (LYFT) and self-driving car startup NuTonomy. Part of its purpose is to get members of the public acquainted with self-driving cars, NuTonomy says in a press release, and based on their feedback “adapt and improve our system, so that we can deliver an autonomous transportation experience that is extremely safe, efficient, and comfortable.”
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The pilot marks a key milestone in Lyft’s attempt to catch up with rideshare rival Uber (UBER) in the race to make autonomous cars viable on a mass scale.
In November, Uber began piloting completely driverless cars in a suburb of Phoenix, Ariz., after having trailed autonomous vehicles with a human backup driver since 2016. But several accidents and traffic infractions have raised questions about Uber’s safety record.
Unlike participants in Uber’s Phoenix trials, Bostonian rideshare passengers should not expect their Lyft cars to be completely driverless just yet. For the duration of the pilot, each ride will pack a human rider able to take the wheel when necessary, tech site The Verge reports.