Ford announced Wednesday it will partner with Lyft to deploy autonomous cars. Lyft's agreement with Ford adds the automaker to the ride-hailing service's current list of car companies it's teaming up with for self-driving technology. The partnership will "help both companies progress toward a more affordable, dependable and accessible transportation future," Ford said in a blog post. The announcement comes after Ford promised last December to offer a fully autonomous vehicle for ride-sharing and ride-hailing services by 2021. The company gave a glimpse of its next generation Fusion Hybrid self-driving car at the time.
Lyft has welcomed one more powerful ally to help it achieve its dreams of adding self-driving cars to its ride-hailing network: Ford. In his announcement post on Medium, Ford Autonomous Vehicle VP Sherif Marakby says the partnership will help them figure out how to tweak their autonomous AI platform to be able to seamlessly connect with the ride-hailing network's. By sharing data with each other, they hope to figure out the best cities to launch a ride-hailing fleet full of autonomous vehicles, as well as to conjure up the framework necessary to maintain that fleet. Their end goal is to give passengers a way to hail self-driving cars as easily as they would a normal one. Ford, which has been developing its self-driving tech for a while, joins the growing number of partners in Lyft's Open Platform Initiative, which already includes heavyweights like Waymo, General Motors, Land Rover and Jaguar.
Lyft, the second largest ride-hailing service in the U.S., once helped disrupt the taxi industry. Now, the company is working hard to avoid being disrupted itself as self-driving cars turn from sci-fi into reality. According to Taggart Matthiesen, vice president of product at Lyft's Autonomous Group, the company has assigned around 400 of its engineers to work on two distinct self-driving initiatives. One is the "open platform" where Lyft connects passengers with semi-autonomous vehicles created by its partners, including Aptiv in Las Vegas and Alphabet's Waymo in Chandler, Arizona. The other is Lyft's effort to create its own self-driving systems, work that it does primarily at Level 5, its sizable lab in an unassuming office park in Palo Alto, Calif.
Lyft has been criticized for being too nice when it comes to taking advantage of Uber's recent stumbles, but there's a reason for that. Lyft has been growing the number of partnerships with other tech companies and automakers in order to not be left behind in the race to self-driving cars, which would make the company vastly more profitable. SAN FRANCISCO -- Lyft announced Wednesday that it is partnering with Magna, a Canadian automotive parts manufacturer, to develop a self-driving vehicle for its ride-hailing network. As part of the deal, Magna will invest $200 million in Lyft. "We're co-founding and co-developing a self-driving system together," said Lyft co-founder Logan Green.