This is a really exciting episode. I recorded this episode from the inside of the Aptiv and Lyft self-driving car at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Aptiv and Lyft partnered up to offer limited demonstrations of their self-driving car during the massive tech conference.
When I first checked into the Lyft tent at the Gold Lot at CES, I received instructions on how to request a self-driving Lyft ride from a staff member. At first, I needed to update my app. Once the app was updated, I opened it up and then had to continuously close and refresh it for about 10 minutes until a pop-up window showed up that asked me if I wanted to take a demo ride in a Lyft self-driving car. I promptly agreed but was disheartened to find out that there were no available spots. After about fifteen minutes of staring at my Lyft app, the button finally changed to an option that I could reserve a spot on the waitlist. Needless to say, the self-driving Lyft rides were in very high demand and the process to request one was not the easiest. Considering that there were hundreds of people in the parking lot that were all requesting a Lyft ride, I was very fortunate to get added to the waitlist.
Once I got added to the wait list, the app showed that my Lyft ride was 21 minutes away. An hour later, the wait time finally changed to 20 minutes. A half-hour later, the wait time decreased to 16 minutes. As I waited, there was a race between the decreasing life of my iPhone battery and the arrival of my ride.
Finally, a Lyft or Aptiv engineer came into the tent to inform Britney that her ride had arrived. Clearly, Brittney was not in it to win it, because she was nowhere to be found. The engineer asked me if I wanted to take her spot and if her predestined drop off point at the Bellagio Hotel was acceptable to me. The Bellagio was 20 minutes away from my hotel at the Venetian, but after waiting for two hours I would take that car anywhere its artificial intelligence system would take me.
As I was waiting around, I met a friendly guy named Brent Hankins, who happened to be a Design Engineer in the self-driving car industry. We agreed to share the ride to the Bellagio and the rest is history.
Listen to the podcast for the play-by-play.
Of course, since this was a demo, there was a safety driver and technician in the front seats. Odin and Murun were both great hosts and represented the Aptiv and Lyft companies exceptionally well. I can’t thank them enough for their great insight and patience with us.
Overall, I was very impressed with the Aptiv and Lyft self-driving car. Odin had to take control three times during our 30-minute drive. He navigated out of the convention center parking lot, took control momentarily while a police officer was controlling traffic, and had to take control at the end when the car was headed to a location other than the Bellagio.
Traffic was the worst that the Las Vegas Strip had to offer, and the Aptiv and Lyft self-driving car handled it with ease. I was very impressed.
For some reason, the self-driving experience continued to freeze my Lyft app for almost an hour after I got dropped off. I guess it didn’t like the fact that I took Britney’s ride, so it was still showing that my Lyft was 15 minutes away. So in a strange irony, I was forced to take an Uber ride to the airport after I got dropped off.