Ford wants to bring self-driving vehicles into everyday traffic more quickly and is teaming up with u.S. Ride-hailing company lyft to do so. On a joint technology platform, the partners will initially deploy conventional vehicles on the lyft network to test the platform interface as well as compatibility, ford announced today (28. September 17) with. At a later date, ford said it planned to deploy self-driving test vehicles.
Lyft has a rough customer network, especially in the u.S., as well as detailed knowledge of transportation flow within cities, ford stressed. Ford, in turn, will contribute its expertise in the development of autonomous vehicle technology. Together they want to "make autonomous vehicles usable for the masses," it said.
Lyft wants to become a platform for autonomous vehicles from different providers. The uber rival’s partners already include ford competitor general motors, google sister company waymo and start-ups such as drive.Ai or nutonomy. Gm invested about half a billion dollars in lyft in early 2016. Uber, on the other hand, is working on its own robot car technology – and is currently in court fighting accusations that it used knowledge stolen from waymo.
The merger is expected to "accelerate the development of a profitable and viable self-driving vehicle business," ford executive sherif marakby said. Ford has already made significant progress in developing autonomous technologies and is currently building out the necessary infrastructure.
Development teams are currently working to make the two companies’ systems compatible so lyft customers won’t feel any difference from the service they’re used to. With the help of the lyft app, they should then be able to optimally schedule self-driving vehicles in the future. Ford did not specify when this service would be available.
Ford had already announced a year ago that it would put robot cars without steering wheels on the road by 2021. However, the comparatively high price of the first autonomous cars is seen as a rough hurdle to address a broader market. The use in fleets of rental cars or cabs is seen as an attractive solution to quickly achieve mass suitability.
Ford considered partnering with google on robotic car technology in 2015, but decided to develop its own systems. In may, jim hackett, who was previously responsible for autonomous vehicles and mobility services, stepped up to the top of the company.