Lyft is getting busy forging partnerships with companies big and small in pursuit of its ride-sharing future, the latest of which is Drive.ai, a self-driving technology firm spun out of Stanford University. The two are now preparing to kick off trials of self-driving cars in and around San Francisco.
Disney, Amtrak and Jaguar Land Rover are among the bigger names to team up with Lyft in the last few months, while Google's Waymo and self-driving startup NuTonomy are a couple of lesser-known examples.
Autonomous transportation wasn't always the name of the game for Lyft, but last year co-founder John Zimmer made it clear that he sees it as a key part of the future, even claiming that the majority of Lyft rides will be delivered by self-driving vehicles within five years.
So teaming up with companies that specialize in the area, like Drive.ai, is shaping as an important pillar in that strategy. The startup focuses on building AI software and what it describes as the brain of self-driving vehicles. It plans to bring this technology to market in the form of retrofittable kits that bring autonomous capabilities to any old vehicle.
"Drive.ai and Lyft are both working toward a future where self-driving vehicles radically improve the lives of millions," says Sameep Tandon, CEO of Drive.ai. "By launching this pilot, we're taking a giant step to advance that reality. As we deploy Drive.ai's safe, intelligent autonomous vehicles on the city streets, we can begin to build public understanding and trust. Self-driving cars have so much to offer, from safety to convenience, and we can't wait for consumers to experience this for themselves."
Details are a little scarce in terms of what exactly this pilot will entail, but Lyft says it will commence in the Bay Area (San Francisco) soon. Trained safety drivers will be aboard the vehicles, and the lessons learned will help Lyft improve the passenger experience and Drive.ai improve its autonomous technologies.