Lyft is following Uber into self-driving cars

A nu Tonomy self-driving taxi drives on the road in its public trial in Singapore

As Lyft puts it, a "diverse set of real-life scenarios helps partners develop their systems around actual experiences and behaviors".

Lyft is taking a markedly different approach from Uber.

The ride sharing company has made a decision to start a self-driving division with a facility in Palo Alto, California, rather than continuing to rely on partnerships to gain the technology in what company leadership is calling the Open Platform Initiative, CNBC reported. Lyft said it would be developing its own software and hardware to enable vehicles to drive without a human at the wheel, while also working to attract new partners who can plug their own self-driving cars into its grid.

But Lyft's chief strategy officer Raj Kapoor said Thursday, per the Chron, "Drivers play an important role and will continue to play an important role". As the Chronicle elaborates, they'll instead be opening up their network and sharing data with partners that include Waymo, as well as Lyft investor General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, and self-driving startup NuTonomy out of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Some industry officials fear that a lack of uniform rules and expectations could hinder the development of self-driving cars by effectively preventing vehicles from crossing state lines. The autonomy program is expected to launch in Boston where riders who opt into the trail can be automatically picked up in a self-driving vehicle accompanied by test drivers sitting in the front seats. The system, once completed, will allow Lyft and its partners to deploy and manage autonomous cars as they ferry customers around.

Perhaps more than most others, Lyft seemingly has laid the groundwork for deploying autonomous vehicles among a varied fleet. To facilitate those efforts, Lyft said it will open a research facility in Palo Alto, Calif., later this year and hire hundreds of employees to work with other automakers there.




The announcement comes after Lyft earlier this year introduced what it calls "the world's first open self-driving platform". That's a big deal, because (depending on Lyft's progress) it could mean we'll get our hands on autonomous cars a little sooner.

Lyft, in conjunction with nuTonomy, plans to have autonomous cars on the road in Boston by the end of this year.

It may seem odd to have so many businesses, some of which are direct competitors, collaborating on self-driving cars.

In a blog post, Vincent went even further: "Lyft will always operate a hybrid network, with rides from both human-driven and self-driving cars", he wrote.

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