On-demand cab service Lyft has inked a deal with Waymo, the autonomous vehicle firm spun off from Google, to jointly develop self-driving technology.
Details of the partnership are scant, and we don’t yet know what the two companies intend to build together. However, as The New York Times notes, given Lyft’s collaboration with General Motors, it’s likely that Waymo will want to get in on efforts like testing driverless electric Chevy Bolts.
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The news comes at an interesting time in both companies’ journeys. Lyft raised $600 million last month at a valuation of $7.5 billion and recently began testing Shuttle, a service that sees cabs operating along a fixed route with set pickup and drop-off points in San Francisco and Chicago.
Meanwhile, Waymo is in the thick of a legal battle with Uber as it claims that the cab company stole intellectual property pertaining to its self-driving technology. Last week, Uber pleaded in court to move its case with Waymo to private arbitration to avoid trial, but its request was denied and the suit will indeed proceed.
Waymo is also in the process of putting its autonomous vehicle tech through gruelling real-world tests: it just launched a program to offer early adopters in Phoenix, Arizona, access to its self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans “every day, at any time, to go anywhere within an area that’s about twice the size of San Francisco.” The partnership with Lyft could enable it to expand such tests, clock more miles and gather more data on the road with actual people on board.
With that, Lyft just might have a chance at edging past Uber in the race to bring driverless vehicle services to the mainstream.
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