Sources indicate that Waymo and Lyft have signed an agreement to work together in developing self-driving cars. Waymo, which is a unit of Google’s parent company, and the ride-hailing service firm will now collaborate on product development efforts and pilot projects related to driverless car technology.
“Waymo holds today’s best self-driving technology, and collaborating with them will accelerate our shared vision of improving lives with the world’s best transportation,” a statement from Lyft’s spokesperson said.
According to sources, talks on a possible collaboration began when Waymo’s chief executive, John Krafcik met with the leaders and the founders of Lyft, John Zimmer and Logan Green last summer. It is understood that Waymo believes that its self-driving technology is in a stage where it can be commercialized.
The agreement between Lyft and Waymo will pose a threat to Uber, which is the largest ride-hailing firm in the world. While Uber is also engaged in the development of autonomous cars it is also confronting various legal and workplace problems including a lawsuit which alleges that it illegally obtained Waymo’s driverless car trade secrets and technology.
But in making the partnership public, Lyft and Waymo revealed little about the deal. The two firms did not for instance say what products the market should expect from the collaboration or even when the results of the partnership would be unveiled.
Best driverless car tech
In partnering with Waymo, Lyft puts itself in a position to get ahead of Uber’s autonomous car development efforts as Waymo’s technology is reputed to be the best according to California’s Department of Motor Vehicles. This reputation is based on the disengagement reports which show the distance an autonomous car can move without requiring the intervention of a human being. In the case of Waymo, the average distance was 5,000 miles while in the case of the next nearest rival, it was just several hundred miles.
The partnership between the two firms is, however, not exclusive as they both have been pursuing deals with other firms. Lyft, for instance, already partners with one of its major investors, General Motors. In the deal with General Motors Chevrolet Bolt cars that are autonomous will be tested on the network of the ride-hailing firm in the next couple of years. Waymo, on the other hand, is also in a collaboration deal with Fiat Chrysler. Recently a pilot program was introduced in Phoenix, Arizona, in which residents of the city could get free rides from driverless Chrysler minivans