If you're more likely to be a passenger than a driver but you still want to get in on the self-driving action, fear not: Ford just announced that they'll be working with Lyft to deploy self-driving cars. Similar to their partnership with Domino's Pizza that may invigorate the food delivery process, ridesharing may just be the next frontier for autonomous cars. As ride-hailing services continue to grow, this move may be what keeps Lyft ahead of the game. While you can't hop into a driverless Lyft just yet, this news suggests that Ford will certainly be working with Lyft in their movement toward autonomous driving.
Interestingly,Lyft seems to be fully on board with self-driving after announcing the birth of their new autonomous division in California. While the company isn’t going to be making vehicles themselves, they’re bringing in a wealthy amount of talent to help them out. Prior to teaming up with Ford, Lyft announced that they would be collaborating with General Motors, Jaguar, and Waymo.
Sherif Marakby, Ford’s Vice President of Autonomous Vehicle and Electrification, posted a blog on how the partnership would increase both parties’ capabilities to share information: “Lyft has a network of customers, growing demand for rides and strong knowledge of transportation flow within cities. We have experience with autonomous vehicle technology development and large scale manufacturing. Both companies have fleet management and big data experience.”
The goal is ultimately to create a solution with driverless vehicles quickly taking customers to their destination. Marakby lists what they’ll be working on, such as compatibility, availability, and how to set up the infrastructure to make it work. They won’t be trying to beat out competitors like Uber, but instead trying to make the service safe and efficient before rolling it out.
In the short term, Ford will be deploying mock self-driving vehicles for one of the Domino’s Pizza locations in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Instead of delivery drivers bringing pizza to the door, customers would have to go out to the car and retrieve the food from the vehicle. So perhaps not quite as convenient during the test period, but definitely a cool experience. Even though autonomy isn’t legal on the streets, they’re still testing out how the service would look and gauge customer reactions and experience.
Uber has been dealing with a lot of turmoil in recent months with harassment lawsuits and Travis Kalanick stepping down as the company’s CEO in June. Despite these shakeups, the company is still looking at sending a new fleet of autonomous vehicles to Pittsburgh. The destination was chosen due to unpredictable weather and notorious tough navigation through the city’s neighborhoods.
While it’s an ultimate benefit that both services are looking into self-driving to help speed up the process with their own resources, Lyft has taken advantage of Uber’s tarnished image. People are increasingly looking toward the alternative ride-hailing service with total revenue growing by 25 percent from the first quarter to the second.
In terms of direct competition, Uber still blows it away by being in six times the cities. However, the smaller ride-hailing service could only get bigger through the help of Ford’s ambition in the self-driving industry.