Lyft will finally develop its own self-driving cars

Being the biggest move Lyft has made in the autonomous vehicle market, the company refers to it as an 'Open Platform Initiative'.

Also unlike Uber, Lyft is being careful not to write drivers out of the equation.

"Lyft is also uniquely positioned to build technology in collaboration with partners in a way that will make it possible to roll out self-driving cars at scale in the fastest, safest, most efficient way", said Luc Vincent, Lyft's vice president of engineering.

The California-based company said it will hire hundreds of people by the end of this year, and lease 50,000 square feet for lab space and open testing space.

Lyft earlier this year introduced an open self-driving platform that allowed auto manufacturers and self-driving systems to sync with Lyft's network.

Lyft previously announced partnerships with Alphabet's self-driving division, Waymo, technology company Nutonomy, and automakers General Motors Co and Jaguar Land Rover.

"We'll build an entire stack of self-driving technology", Raj Kapoor, Lyft chief strategy officer, said at a media event Thursday at the company's San Francisco headquarters.

Vincent, who joined Lyft in February, said the company's self-driving vehicles will operate on that network alongside vehicles introduced by Lyft partners.

Lyft is opening its own autonomous driving facility in Palo Alto, California, and creating its own self-driving team.

Lyft's new push comes as Uber is facing a lawsuit from Waymo over alleged theft of trade secrets relating to self-driving technology designs. As the Chron notes, recently deposed CEO Travis Kalanick once infamously bragged that the company's self-driving vehicles would allow him to stop having to pay "the dude" in the driver's seat. Ten percent of Lyft's engineers are working on this technology.

Uber's approach is closer to that of Apple: Both companies want to control most of the product, whether the software or the hardware.

The company is promising always to use a "hybrid network" in which drivers are on hand to assist the robot vehicles - noting that this is going to remain necessary indefinitely in numerous 350 cities worldwide where Lyft operates and where detailed maps are not available.

The ride-sharing service announced Friday, July 21, 2017 it will develop the hardware and software to power its own self-driving vehicles, a dramatic departure in strategy. It visualizes a hybrid network of human-driven and self-driving cars, with the system selecting whichever is best for a passenger's requested route.

  • Eleanor Harrison