Lyft will team up with Ford and a self-driving car start-up to offer rides in Miami.
Ford Motor and its autonomous driving subsidiary, Argo AI, have formed an alliance with Lyft to begin offering rides in self-driving cars.
Ford plans to start operating self-driving cars in Miami through Lyft’s ridesharing service this year. The vehicles will be fitted with Argo’s autonomous driving technology, but will still have someone behind the wheel for safety.
“Going from the test phase to a commercial service, while using safety operators behind the wheel, is a big step,” wrote Argo general manager Bryan Salesky in a blog post about the partnership. “But moving from there to offering driverless vehicles is an even bigger step. This requires validating that the technology achieves a level of autonomous driving performance deemed safer than what we see on the streets today. “
All three companies hope to run self-driving cars in Austin, Texas, next year. They aim to have a few dozen cars on the road in Miami and Austin and hope to have around 1,000 on the road in several cities within five years.
As part of the partnership, Lyft will acquire a 2.5% stake in Argo. In return, Lyft agreed to share the data it collected on ridesharing operations with Ford and Argo. Ford and Volkswagen each own about 40 percent of Argo.
Waymo, the self-driving company owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, has been testing a limited limousine service in Phoenix for several years. Argo has tested around 150 autonomous vehicles in six US cities as well as in Germany.
Just a few years ago, automakers and tech companies expected rapid progress in the deployment of self-driving cars. But they found that developing the required hardware and software was more difficult than initially thought.
Two years ago, Tesla CEO Elon Musk predicted his company would have a million self-driving taxis on the road by 2020. But it is still developing its Full Self-Driving software, and in filings with from California regulators, she said the system cannot drive a driverless car and may never achieve that capability.
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