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Ride-hailing company Lyft is expected to launch self-driving rides by the end of 2017

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Lyft joined a growing number of Silicon Valley companies on Friday when it announced that it would launch self-driving cars by the end of the year, the Washington Post reported. Company officials said the autonomy project, which is expected to take off in Boston before spreading to other cities, could involve hundreds of thousands of vehicles.

For consumers, that means riders who opt into the trial phase may be automatically hauled away in a self-driving vehicle built by one of several manufacturers working with Lyft. At first, the venture will explore the conditions of the trip, such as route, traffic, weather and time of day, before picking up a passenger.

“You're going to see it. You're going to see these vehicles on the street,” said Taggart Matthiesen, Lyft's senior director of product.

As with other companies, Lyft's self-driving vehicles during its testing phase will feature a test driver who sits in the front of the car, ensuring the vehicle is operating successfully and safely.

Lyft's dabble into the self-driving car industry reflects a growing trend in Silicon Valley. Traditional auto manufacturers Ford and General Motors have already claimed authority in the space, while Lyft's competitors, Waymo and Uber, have also launched similar initiatives. As a result, Lyft is making attempts to differentiate itself by designing its own common software interface that other automakers can use in their cars.

“We're building a way for third parties to plug their self-driving cars into our network."
Luc Vincent, vice president of engineering at Lyft

See what it's like to ride in the nation's first self-driving, self-charging bus

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