Self-driving and connected car tech company Aptiv (formerly Delphi) is back at CES again in 2018, and this time it’s partnering with Lyft to demonstrate its latest developments in self-driving technology. The Aptiv and Lyft team-up brings a fleet of 8 autonomous test cars to Las Vegas, which attendees at the show can hail from their Lyft app for rides to 20 different destinations across the strip – just like they would any other Lyft.
Users will be alerted when they’re able to get a self-driving vehicle, and of course queues will probably be long given that CES has nearly 200,000 attendees and there are less than 10 vehicles available, but this test is still open to the public, the first time Aptiv has done this with one of its autonomous test vehicles.
The car that Aptiv is using this year is also new, an iteration on its testing platform that’s based on a BMW 5-Series, complete with Velodyne LIDAR mounted at the front beneath the grill instead of on-top, as well as front-facing LiDAR on the wing mirrors to complete the picture and two radar sensor mounts on either side of the vehicle that retract when not in use.
Aptiv CTO Glen DeVos explained that this tech package includes more sensors than ever before, but it also offers a design that’s more integrated into the existing lines of the consumer vehicle, too. The idea is to continue to move towards something that’s more production-ready, both in terms of capabilities, and in terms of meeting the design expectations of manufacturers and consumers.
We rode along with DeVos in the Aptiv/Lyft BMW, on a trip to the MGM Grand from the Las Vegas Convention Center. DeVos explained during the ride how the vehicle was in communication with Las Vegas’s connected traffic lights, which no number 47, and which the city helped facilitate.
To hail the ride, a Lyft rep used the regular app and hailed it just as you would any Lyft. It arrived quickly, giving you an alert that it’s an autonomous vehicle. We got in, and a tablet mounted in the back let us start the trip. It then displayed a view that essentially mirrors the in-app map view in Lyft to show the progress of the ride, along with an indicator to show when the car was in autonomous mode.
The trip was uneventful, which is good for both the technology and the companies powering it. Las Vegas traffic is never straightforward, but the vehicle managed even when other cars crossed multiple lanes to cut us off.
DeVos says that Aptiv and Lyft hope to continue to test after CES, and potentially open up access to the general public for extended testing. it’s new ground for Aptiv, but DeVos says to expect more public trials and expanded competition in this space throughout 2018 and beyond.