Ford has formed a new partnership with transportation networking company Lyft in a significant step toward the widespread introduction of on-demand self-driving vehicles to the general public.
Ford’s partnership with Lyft is intended to help both companies progress toward a more affordable, dependable, and accessible transportation system in the future. Through its autonomous vehicle (AV) test fleet and partner Argo AI’s virtual driver system, Ford is continuing to make progress on developing self-driving technology, while simultaneously building the infrastructure and systems necessary to make it easier for people to access automated transport.
Through its rideshare application, Lyft has a network of customers, growing demand for rides, and strong knowledge of transportation flow within cities. Ford has experience with AV technology development and large-scale manufacturing, and both companies have fleet management and big data experience.
Combining the individual capabilities of each company will allow the partnership to effectively share information in order to develop accessible future mobility systems for consumers. Ford and Lyft will work together to explore:
• How to create a technology platform that can easily connect with a partner’s platform, such as Lyft’s app, to effectively dispatch a self-driving vehicle;
• Which cities to work with to deliver a self-driving vehicle service based on shared data and information;
• The kind of infrastructure necessary to service and maintain a fleet of self-driving vehicles to maximize availability to consumers.
The focus of the partnership will be in building a service based around the actual needs of people, while simultaneously placing a high priority on safety and dependability, in order to build consumer trust in the overall self-driving experience. As part of the development of a joint technology platform, Ford will deploy human-driven vehicles on Lyft’s network to test the interface and ensure compatibility with Lyft’s customer-facing platform, the Lyft app. Developer teams from both companies are already working together, programming systems so they can communicate with one another without impacting users of the Lyft app.
Ford will also connect self-driving test vehicles to Lyft’s network; they will not be available for customer use, but will allow the auto maker to develop the technology and ensure a positive, reassuring experience is achieved for future users. The long-term plan is to have self-driving cars operating alongside Lyft’s current community of drivers to help accommodate times of significant consumer demand to ensure that on-demand transportation remains timely and affordable.