When management upheaval, allegations of corporate espionage, and revelations of sexual harassment sent Uber into a public relations sinkhole, its long overshadowed rival Lyft shifted into overdrive. Drive.ai is a tech start-up that creates self-driving car sensors and software that can be retrofitted onto existing vehicles. SAN FRANCISCO -- Ride-hailing start-up Lyft may soon be picking up passengers in self-driving cars owned and powered by tech start-up Drive.ai, the two companies announced Thursday. When the program starts around Drive.ai's Mountain View headquarters, around 10 cars outfitted with the company's sensors and software will become a part of Lyft's free self-driving service, although passengers who are assigned an autonomous Lyft can opt out. "The purpose here is to see how passengers interact with autonomous vehicles, as well as to see how cities need to change to integrate them," Drive.ai
Drive.ai wants to be noticed. "It's intended to be visually distinct," Drive.ai "If you think of a school bus, you know when you're around a school bus, it's a really bad idea to say, harass it, or to do aggressive maneuvers around it," he said. "The first thing we want to do is make it very, very visibly distinct, so that your expectations around the vehicle also click." Those vans will soon become the first driverless vehicles to pick up passengers in the state of Texas.
A self-driving Lyft could soon give you a ride around San Francisco. Lyft is adding another name to its growing list of collaborators via a partnership with Drive.ai, a Mountain View-based self-driving startup. The pair will launch a new pilot program in the Bay Area with Drive.ai Drive.ai will take advantage of Lyft's ride-hailing app to connect with passengers while testing out its self-driving technology in its own fleet of vehicles, which will be operated by trained safety drivers who will take the wheel if needed. Riders will have a chance to opt out of an autonomous ride on the app.
If Uber's scandals, lawsuits, and federal investigations haven't already driven you into the backseat of its competition just yet, maybe this will: Lyft is launching a fleet of self-driving cars and select customers in the San Francisco Bay Area will be offered free rides in autonomous cars developed and operated by self-driving outfit Drive.ai. "We really want to understand, what are all the pieces that need to come into place?" For Drive.ai, a two-year-old self-driving startup, it's a chance to see test out its tech and see how real customers interact with its product. To start, the program will include about a dozen AVs (drawn from Drive.ai's mixed fleet of Lincoln MKZ and Audi A4 sedans), but that number will grow as the company starts spending the $50 million it recently raised in a Series B funding round led by VC firm New Enterprise Associates. Both companies will collect data from customers (mostly through in-app reviews) about their experience, in the hopes of making sure they're comfortable, or at least not terrified.
Most of the news regarding self-driving cars comes from California or Arizona, where several suppliers and automakers have set up shop due to favorable regulations. But Drive.ai is ready to bring Texas into the fold. Drive.ai announced today that it plans to launch an on-demand self-driving car service on public roads in Frisco, Texas. Launching in July, and established in coordination with the Frisco Transportation Management Association, the service will provide autonomous rides around Frisco's "North Platinum Corridor" commercial area. This one won't be blending in with normal traffic.