Both companies will work together to develop software that will allow Ford vehicles to communicate with Lyft’s smartphone apps. The automaker says that it plans to deploy Ford self-driving vehicles on Lyft’s ride-sharing network in volume by 2021.
Initially, says Ford, the vehicles it puts on Lyft’s network will be human driven. However, says Sherif Marakby, Ford’s vice president for autonomous vehicles and electrification, “We’re not building prototypes for the sake of building prototypes.”
“We don’t, however, plan to put customers in [autonomous drive vehicles] until we are certain our technology delivers a positive, reassuring experience where we can gain meaningful feedback,” he says. “When ready, we’ll have self-driving cars operating alongside Lyft’s current community of drivers to help accommodate times of significant consumer demand to ensure that transportation remains timely and affordable.”
Ultimately, the company says, it plans to have thousands of self-driving vehicles in use. In addition to the Lyft partnership, it is testing delivery services using self-driving vehicles and a van shuttle service, and plans to invest $700 million in a factory in Flat Rock, Michigan to make it capable of building electric and self-driving vehicles.
The self-driving vehicles Ford plans to deploy through Lyft will be using software developed by artificial intelligence (AI) company Argo AI (Pittsburgh, PA). Ford had previously announced that it will be investing $1 billion in the startup over the next five years.
Ford is just the latest to join Lyft as an autonomous car partner. Other Lyft partners include Jaguar, GM, and Waymo, as well as startups Nutonomy and Drive.ai.
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