Every single popular rideshare service that I’m aware of is losing money. Typically, startups do this in order to gain marketshare or mindshare (eg. Facebook (2004–2012), Uber/Lyft, Postmates, Blue Apron, etc.) Further, the economics of rideshare make it extremely difficult to make money unless something fundamental changes about the model. That seems to be driver-less cars for Uber.
Luckily for them, they have almost $9B to both bridge the gap from where we are today with humans at the wheel, and where we will be in a few years where robots are at the wheel. The goal then becomes, can they 1) become a market leader in automated transport and 2) survive until the underlying economics change. If they do both, it seems obvious that they can more easily compete with the likes of Google that have superior technology, data and resources.
With all of that said, it’s not like Uber and Lyft aren’t obsessing over human-centered design. This is especially true now that “ride share” is essentially a commodity market. It’s just that they’re able to play a much longer game where losing marketshare in a small market doesn’t really matter.
There’s a lot more to this obviously, but I’m tired of typing.