In July Lyft stated that it would offer its on-demand ride network as an open platform for robotic cars supplied by other companies, while also developing some unique technology of its own. The program with Mountain View-based Drive.ai comes after earlier partnerships with GM's Cruise, Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo, Jaguar Land Rover and nuTonomy. As a safety precaution, a technician will be at the wheel in each case a vehicle is summoned via the Lyft app.
As a safety precaution, a technician will be at the wheel in each case a vehicle is summoned via the Lyft app.
Drive.ai was founded just two years ago, and specializes in deep learning-based driving software for use in business, government and shared vehicle fleets, it has already raised more than $62 million to speed development of its technology.
Although Drive.ai's test fleet currently has only about a dozen vehicles, the company is focusing on “scaling across different vehicle types – sedans, minivans, we’re looking at many different makes and models of cars,” President and co-founder Carole Reiley told Forbes.
Lyft’s autonomous vehicles approach notably differs from that of Uber, which spent extensively on the program in recent years, including its $680 million purchase of driverless truck tech startup Otto in 2016. Under former CEO Travis Kalanick, Uber strived to create a driverless vehicle program to challenge Google's efforts that led to Waymo.
The timing for Lyft’s project with Drive.ai is still being worked out, though it will begin soon, said Taggart Matthiesen, Lyft’s senior director of product.
“We’ll start with a small set of vehicles, a small set of passengers, and then over time expand on the routes and the number of passengers that have access to this,” Matthiesen told Forbes.
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