Lyft’s self-driving test vehicles are back in California

Lyft was forced to put its operations on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the testing of its self-driving vehicles is now back on track in California.

To address safety and hygiene concerns, the company claims to be in compliance with CDC guidelines.

In practice, this translates to surface cleaning and mandatory personal protective equipment.

In addition, other safety steps have been taken to prevent exposure to the virus, including:

  • The vehicles having partitions to separate the safety operators.
  • The operators being paired together for two weeks at a time.
  • The wearing of face masks.
  • The operators being asked to submit to temperature checks.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles has reported that there were 19 self-driving Lyft vehicles on the state’s public roads in 2019.

Together, they managed to amass almost 43,000 miles in autonomous mode.

Although Cruise, Waymo, and Argo AI presented much higher numbers, it is still indicative of progress.

When developing its technology, Lyft used simulation along with on-road testing.

The firm decided to use simulation more heavily in response to the COVID-19-related shutdowns.

Even after the lockdowns get lifted, the chances are that Lyft will keep using simulation for development purposes due to it being so cost-effective.

Simulation is the ideal way to resume development while employees are confined to their homes.

The industry is no stranger to using simulation as a development tool, but the way that Lyft approaches data collection is what differentiates it from its competitors.

The company is using data collected from drivers to:

  • Improve its simulations
  • Better its understanding of human driving patterns
  • Build 3D maps

The data that has been gathered comes from select vehicles that are enrolled in Lyft’s Express Drive programme, which provides SUVs and rental cars to drivers as an alternative to options such as long-term leasing.