Ride-hailing service Lyft intends to both offer its technology as open platform for driverless cars supplied by other companies, while also developing its self-driving technology to make it the best in the business, the company has revealed.
The company’s shift in approach towards autonomous technology comes following the announcement of plans for pilot projects with shareholders Jaguar and General Motors, and the start up of nuTonomy and Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo.
Lyft wants to introduce autonomous cars to the road by creating an entire autonomous car platform it can offer to other technology makers.
Lyft has launched its brand new technology center in Palo Alto to help drive its vision forward, with engineers working on sensing, mapping and guidance technologies.
“We want to bring the whole industry together with this. We think that’s the way this is going to work,” Raj Kapoor, Lyft’s chief strategy officer said at a briefing in San Francisco last week.
“We believe there’s a unique opportunity in time right now for a company like Lyft to take a leadership role and bring this together and to get people working on this problem, rather than doing it in isolated technology development – which is what’s been happening so far.” Lyft’s vice president of engineering (and ex-Google Maps executive) Luc Vincent said.
“While these players started a long time ago, the technology has evolved since then. Nine years ago no one was talking about deep learning, for example. We can start fresh. We can build on current technology and move faster.”
Lyft’s strategy is very different to rival on-demand taxi service Uber’s driverless car strategy, which saw it investing in driverless trucks start up Otto in 2016 to launch its autonomous vehicle program.