Lyft has a vested interest in the “transport-as-a-service” narrative, of course, and the company — alongside Uber and others — stands to make a lot of money from people ditching their cars. But Kapoor was also frank about potential knock-on effects of a shift to driverless transport.
For example, with a human driver you can stipulate exactly where you want to be dropped off as you approach the destination, or you can wave at a driver during pickup if you’re not quite where you’re supposed to be. With an autonomous car there’s less room for riffing, which is why Lyft offers a handful of preset options for drop-offs and pickups as part of its autonomous driving program.
“We take for granted that in a ride-share or a taxi, the driver will drop you off exactly where you want to go,” Kapoor said. “If it’s a robot, they have to follow the rules. And what that means is that it needs to be much more explicit about pickups and drop-offs.”
For people who don’t like to walk, or prefer a little flexibility with their rides, that may take some getting used to. But it’s far from a deal-breaker.

Above: Lyft self-driving car drop-off options
Kapoor pointed to a handful of other unintended trade-offs if people ditch their own cars for driverless vehicles — including issues around personal identification and organ donation.
“There’s also a lot of second order effects once this world is self-driving,” Kapoor said. “In the U.S., we identify ourselves with a driver’s license — if people aren’t driving, how do you identify yourself? What about organ donation? What happens when people aren’t getting into [car] accidents?”
It’s true that roughly 20% of organ donations come from people who have died in car accidents. A reasonable counterargument would surely be that having fewer people die in accidents is a good thing, and their organs are still serving their original intended purpose. However, the broader point is that people and industries will have to adapt to the autonomous car movement. But if that is what is needed to transform cities back to people-centric places, Kapoor believes it will be worth it.
“We have made many cities, especially in America, mostly about parking,” Kapoor said. “Fourteen percent of Los Angeles is now parking. It doesn’t make sense because the consumer is utilizing the vehicle 4% of the time. So 96% of the time it’s sitting idle.”
This is a sentiment echoed by Lyft cofounders Logan Green and John Zimmer.
“Over the last 50 years, urban development has centered around the automobile, but imagine for a minute what our world could look like if we found a way to take most of these cars off the road,” they wrote in a regulatory filing last year as Lyft prepared to go public. “It would be a world with less traffic and less pollution. A world where we need less parking — where streets can be narrowed and sidewalks widened. It’s a world where pedestrians, bikers, and children can navigate a city just as quickly and safely as an automobile. That’s a world built around people, not cars.”