Lyft and Waymo have signed a deal to collaborate on the development of self-driving cars, according to a report from The New York Times. The information initially came from two anonymous sources, saying that the two companies will work together through joint development efforts. It was later on confirmed by Lyft and Waymo, with the two companies stating that the collaboration will ultimately improve transportation in cities across the globe. There is no additional information shared by the two companies about the deal other than its confirmation.
This partnership will bring together Waymo and Lyft against one common competitor, Uber. Uber has long been the biggest rival of Lyft, and the latter aims to steal market share from its rival for several years now. In order to compete, both companies employed rather controversial measures that often resulted in lawsuits. Meanwhile, Waymo competes with Uber in developing autonomous vehicle technologies, which may be applicable not only to cars but also to larger vehicles like trucks and vans. Like with Lyft, the relationship between Waymo and Uber grew sour after Waymo discovered that a former Google executive downloaded files containing the Alphabet subsidiary's trade secrets. Recently, US District Judge William Alsup partially granted Waymo's motion for an injunction against Uber. However, it is not clear which part of the motion is granted and which part is denied.
At this point, it might be interesting to know how this new partnership will benefit the two companies. For Lyft, it is clear that partnering with Waymo is important to compete with Uber in the development and deployment of self-driving vehicles for public transportation. Meanwhile, this deal will mark an important milestone for the commercialization of Waymo's autonomous vehicle technology, almost a decade after research began on self-driving vehicles. Waymo boasts of more than three million miles of test drives, with the company performing tests on closed tracks and on the roads in several states in the US. This partnership will also greatly impact Uber, especially if the court prohibits Uber from developing its self-driving technology. Uber has said that self-driving vehicles will be important for its future, and if it fails to deploy autonomous vehicles on time, its viability as a business might be greatly affected.