Thanks to Ford and Volkswagen’s support of Argo AI, the startup’s self-driving cars are making their way to the popular ride-hailing platform Lyft.
Before the year ends, hailing driverless taxis via Lyft will now be possible for users in Miami. Folks in Austin, on the other hand, can expect the same by next year.
As The Verge notes, the technology for these upcoming robotaxis was developed by Argo AI; the startup company is supported by Ford and Volkswagen, who recently announced the news.
After years of Ford delaying its promises to go all out on launching an autonomous vehicle business by 2021, this collaboration with Lyft is a good sign that the brand hasn’t given up on its endeavors just yet.
As disclosed by an Argo spokesperson, the goal is to bring a collective number of less than 100 vehicles to both Austin and Miami by 2022. Accomplishing this modest beginning will set the groundwork for deploying a greater 1,000 AVs throughout various markets within the following five years.
A milestone in Miami.
Lyft users inside designated geographic areas will soon be free to choose whether or not they want an autonomous vehicle to get them where they need to be.
Argo technology has been undergoing testing in Miami for several years now, and it will certainly be exciting for the company to finally have its AVs available on Lyft for customers within the city before the year ends.
Those wary of this new technology may be pleased to know that these autonomous vehicles are still going to have two safety drivers in the front passenger and driver seats for backup.
Lyft’s bigger plans.
Although Lyft did call it quits on developing its own self-driving technology earlier this year, the ride-hailing service still seems keen on nurturing its presence in the autonomous vehicle industry.
Currently, the company brokers trips in Las Vegas and Phoenix via Aptiv and Waymo respectively.
While Lyft plays no crucial role in AV tech development, considering that it did sell its entire AV research division (Level 5) to Toyota’s WPH in April for $550 million, that doesn’t mean the well-known app is the lesser part of this deal with Ford.
As stated in the press release, “Argo will use anonymized service and fleet data from Lyft that will enable Argo to overcome the challenges faced by other autonomous vehicle companies by focusing on where they can build a sustainable business and can validate deployment through localized safety data.”
Thanks to a mutually signed “network access agreement” between both companies, Lyft will be receiving a 2.5% equity stake in Argo, provided that the ride-hailing service shares its data from these self-driven rides.
Altogether, Lyft, Ford, and Argo have clarified that they intend to use this data (to be collected from Austin and Miami rides, of course) to optimize their actions towards growing a full-blown robotaxi business.
Ford finally taking bigger strides towards fulfilling its AV business plans, Lyft managing to keep its place in the industry, and Argo AI receiving support from both may open many new doors for all three companies, individually and as partners. AV-enthusiast Lyft users in Miami and Austin should keep their eyes peeled on the app for when the option to take a ride on a self-driving car finally comes around.