Ford Motor Company and Lyft announced a self-driving partnership on Wednesday, stating that the two are planning to jointly deploy new autonomous vehicles for the purposes of testing them and making new advancements in this emerging field. Ford VP of Autonomous Vehicles and Electrification Sherif Marakby said Lyft has a vast experience and data on urban transportation flows across the United States, citing that as one major factor which contributed to the company's decision to partner with the ride-hailing company. By combining its autonomous driving technology with Lyft's data, Ford is hoping to facilitate its advancements in the sector and come closer to its goal of commercializing driverless cars. As both Lyft and Ford are already running sizeable big data and fleet management operations, their new collaboration should be even more seamless, Mr. Marakby suggested.
Ford is quick to point out that its self-driving solutions won't be designed as a standalone ecosystem but one that will encourage third parties to take advantage of it and should ultimately be flexible enough to allow for integration with other platforms like the ride-hailing one managed by Lyft. The two firms are hoping their new partnership will be of the long-term variety and eventually transition to a viable business model which is already being considered but its planning is still in its infancy, with the duo presently seeking to identify U.S. cities in which their partnership would make the most sense. Likewise, the current collaboration will be aimed at answering some logistics-related questions related to infrastructural requirements for autonomous fleet management and support services that a major partnership between the two would warrant, Mr. Marakby said.
Lyft's partnership with Ford was announced shortly after the San Francisco, California-based company already debuted a similar collaboration with Waymo, Alphabet's self-driving division which was spun off from Google. The ride-hailing service provider is also set to open a new research facility in Palo Alto, California, where it will seek to work together with a number of other players in the industry with the goal of advancing autonomous vehicle technologies. Despite making some significant commitments in the sector in recent times, Lyft still isn't interested in actually manufacturing driverless cars and is instead primarily seeking to combine such third-party technology with its ride-hailing platform going forward.