Lyft, today, announced that it had opened up a new office in Europe – in Munich, Germany to be exact. This new office is going to be focusing on autonomous vehicles, something that Lyft has been working on for quite some time in its backyard in San Francisco, thanks to GM being a big investor in the company. The office in Munich will be working on SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping) at first. This is the layer of software that helps Lyft's self-driving cars get around and see what is around them. Lyft is working on a Level 5 Autonomous Vehicle, and this expansion in Munich is going to help the company, greatly, at achieving that goal.
Self-driving or autonomous vehicles are the big subject lately in the auto and tech worlds. There are many companies already working on self-driving cars, and Lyft isn't the latest to join in, since it has been working on it for a good bit as well. General Motors recently invested $500 million in the company, and is also providing Lyft with a number of Chevy Bolt's (GM's sub-$30,000 electric vehicle on its Chevrolet brand) for autonomous testing. The testing has gone well for Lyft, according to what the company has put out so far, but with this expansion today, it'll be able to improve the software that the vehicle will run on.
Many ride-sharing companies are seeing self-driving vehicles as the future because it means that less people will own cars and more will need to find a ride. But it also means that they won't need to pay for drivers. Now that doesn't mean that it'll have less overhead, as these cars are going to need more maintenance, and always need some adjustments to its software and such. But it should also make the roads safer – a big reason why many companies are looking to provide autonomous vehicles. Seeing as these autonomous vehicles would follow the rules of the road, a bit more than a human driver. Which should prevent many accidents, in fact many analysts have said it could cut the number of accidents in half, if not a bit more.