Ride hailing service Lyft has had a change of heart and decided that it will develop hardware and software for its own self-driving vehicles, forming an autonomous driving centre in Palo Alto, California.
In the past, Lyft had entered into partnerships with Alphabet’s Waymo and General Motors with the intention of collaborating on the development of self-driving vehicles. Lyft says it will continue to work with these partners on top of its own development efforts.
Lyft will not be manufacturing the cars itself, solely focused on the necessary self-driving systems to be installed within the cars. One issue facing Lyft is that it doesn’t have a permit to test autonomous vehicles in California, though I doubt that’d be too difficult for them to acquire due to the permit list already including a host of companies including Uber, Waymo, General Motors, Tesla, Mercedes Benz, Ford, Honda, Baidu, and Apple – just to name a few.
It’s a bold and expensive move from Lyft in what is becoming an ever-more crowded market, but may well be worth the risk with rival Uber still attempting to claw its way back from a variety of scandals and lawsuits – including an ongoing one with Lyft partner Waymo.
Lyft completed a $500m funding round in April. The round included a $25m investment from Jaguar Land Rover to support Lyft’s expansion and tech plans, while also giving Jaguar Land Rover’s InMotion Ventures the opportunity to develop and test its mobility services, and supply Lyft driver with Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles.