Ford has partnered with US ride-sharing provider Lyft to develop self-driving vehicles and related infrastructure.
As part of the partnership, Ford will connect self-driving vehicles to Lyft’s grid in order to collect data. While the tests won’t involve picking up customers, the ultimate aim for the future is “to have self-driving cars operating alongside Lyft’s current community of drivers [in order to] accommodate times of significant consumer demand to ensure that transportation remains timely and affordable.”
In addition to the testing of autonomous vehicles, the partnership also involves the development of a “joint technology platform”. It will see manned Ford vehicles driving while connected to Lyft’s network, to test compatibility with Lyft’s interface.
Developers from both companies are already working on making sure the tests don’t interfere with regular use of Lyft’s app on part of customers.
The companies also said there would be a parallel development on the infrastructure needed to service autonomous vehicles, and have hinted at collaborations with “cities” in order to share data.
A joint statement read: “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. Combining the capabilities of Ford and Lyft will allow the effectively share information to help make the best decisions for the future for consumers.
“The partnership with Lyft will accelerate plans to build a profitable and viable self-driving vehicle business.”
Lyft has also been working on self-driving cars with Alphabet’s Waymo. Ford, meanwhile, has invested $1bn (£0.74m) in a subsidiary dedicated to developing the Argo self-driving AI interface.