Ford and Lyft partner on self-driving cars

Ford and Lyft teams will begin working together to design software to allow Ford vehicles to communicate with Lyft's smartphone apps. — Reuters

Ford Motor Company and ride-sharing service Lyft are teaming up to test self-driving vehicles.

And given how Uber has lost its license to operate in London, potentially costing thousands of people a means to earn a living, taking the human element of driving could have serious ramifications beyond simply making life more efficient for Lyft users. The goal of the partnership is to bring affordable, dependable, and accessible transportation to the future.

Lyft already has a large network of customers that's constantly growing, plus strong knowledge of transportation flow within cities. In May, the company announced its plan to work with Alphabet's Waymo on autonomous technology.

Ford and Lyft will attempt to answer other questions with their partnership, as well, such as: With which cities should the two companies work to provide autonomous rides to customers, and what infrastructure will be necessary to service and maintain a self-driving fleet? "Both companies have fleet management and big data experience", he wrote. "But we are focusing our efforts on building a service based around actual people's needs and wants", Marakby added.

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If Lyft is to capture a significant stake of the self-driving auto market it will need to counter the efforts of its best-known competitor, Uber, which is also investing heavily in autonomous vehicle technology.

But the Ford and Lyft partnership isn't exclusive and it's unlikely to be unique - in fact, it's probably going to be something that proves a model for a range of similar partnerships across networks in future.

GM has invested $500 million in Lyft, aiming to deploy its driverless Chevy Bolts on the ride-hailing network. When ready, Ford will have self-driving cars operating alongside Lyft's current community of drivers but this is likely years away still.

The focus of the partnership is on laying the groundwork for a future time when Lyft users will be able to open the app and call a auto, which will then come from a range of different providers operating their own driverless fleets. With Lyft's network and respected brand experience, Ford expects its ability to scale self-driving vehicles will play a critical role in safely bringing this technology - and its many benefits - to mainstream consumers.

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