Ford links with ride-sharing company Lyft

Ford has announced a new partnership with Lyft, a transportation networking company, in what it describes as a significant step towards bringing self-driving vehicles to the masses.

The company says elf-driving vehicles will have an impact on how people and goods will move more efficiently in the future, and the magnitude of that impact – and how quickly self-driving vehicles can benefit society – depends largely on businesses, government and the public working together. It says the partnership with Lyft will help both companies progress toward a more affordable, dependable and accessible transportation future.

Ford continues to make progress on developing self-driving technology – through its self-driving vehicle and Argo AI’s virtual driver system – simultaneously building the infrastructure and systems necessary to make it easier for people to access.

Lyft has a network of customers, growing demand for rides and strong knowledge of transportation flow within cities. Ford has experience with autonomous vehicle technology development and large scale manufacturing. Both companies have fleet management and big data experience. Ford believes that combining the capabilities of Ford and Lyft will allow them to share information to help make the best decisions for the future for consumers.

Ford and Lyft will work together to explore:

  • How to create a technology platform that it can easily connect with a partner’s platform (such as Lyft’s) to effectively dispatch a self-driving vehicle
  • Which cities to work with to deliver a self-driving vehicle service based on shared data and information
  • The kind of infrastructure necessary to service and maintain a fleet of self-driving vehicles to maximise availability to consumers

The focus of the partnership is in building a service based around the actual needs and wants of people. Placing a high priority on safety and dependability to build consumer trust in the experience that self-driving technology will one day enable.

As part of the development of a joint technology platform, Ford will deploy human-driven vehicles on Lyft’s network to test the interface and ensure compatibility with Lyft’s customer-facing platform, the Lyft app. Developer teams from both companies are already working together, programming systems so they can communicate with one another without impacting users of the Lyft app.

Ford will also connect self-driving test vehicles to Lyft’s network; they will not be available for customer use, but allow Ford to develop the technology and ensure a positive, reassuring experience is achieved for future users. The future plan is to have self-driving cars operating alongside Lyft’s current community of drivers to help accommodate times of significant consumer demand to ensure that transportation remains timely and affordable.

The company says the partnership with Lyft will accelerate plans to build a profitable and viable self-driving vehicle business. With Lyft’s network and brand experience, Ford expects its ability to scale self-driving vehicles will play a critical role in safely bringing this technology and its benefits to mainstream consumers.

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