Lyft's John Zimmer shares his vision for autonomous transportation future

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Lyft co-founder John Zimmer believes the rise of ride-sharing and autonomous vehicles will change the physical environments of our cities(Credit: Lyft)

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Lyft co-founder John Zimmer has outlined the ride-sharing company's vision for the next 10 years and beyond. Zimmer believes we're on the cusp of a transportation revolution, with the rise of ride-sharing and autonomous vehicles set to change the physical environments of our cities.

Following its partnership with General Motors to launch an on-demand network of autonomous vehicles, ZImmer says the majority of Lyft's rides will be delivered by autonomous vehicles within five years. Indeed, we're already seeing the likes of Uber and NuTonomy testing autonomous ride-sharing vehicles publicly.

Zimmer reasons that the availability of autonomous ride-sharing vehicles below the cost of car ownership will contribute to a move away from outright ownership, as it will be simpler and more affordable to live without a car, while still possible to have access to one when required. With that in mind, his second prediction is that, by 2025, private car ownership in US cities will "all-but end."

Finally, Zimmer predicts that this reduction in car ownership will change the shape of our cities "more than we've ever experienced in our lifetimes," with less space and infrastructure required to accommodate cars. For example, he argues that there will be fewer cars sitting parked and empty and therefore less need for parking spaces.

Zimmer makes clear that he doesn't think cars themselves are the problem, but how we use them, with the amount of time they remain parked rather than in use being incredibly inefficient. He points out, though, that we no longer have to own many products in order to enjoy their benefits, with DVD ownership having been made unnecessary by streaming services like Netflix and owning music by services like Spotify.

In a similar way, Zimmer says that it is now possible to offer "Transportation as a Service," with ride-sharing firms able to provide all the access to cars that many people will need at a cost kept down in part by the eventual lack of need for a driver. Where someone is currently required to sit behind the wheel of self-driving cars, Zimmer believes that 10 years from now autonomous vehicles will not even require a person in the driver's seat to take control in the event of a problem.

Ultimately, he says these changes will give us the opportunity to create more people-focused cities. Less space required for cars, he argues, will allow us to widen sidewalks and construct new housing, businesses and parks on parking lots, with subsequent implications on global economics, health, social equality, the environment, and overall quality of life.

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