Lyft has another self-driving partnership in the works
Lyft isn’t done lining up partners for an autonomous future, and with a wide-open platform for self-driving development, that won’t likely end soon.
The ride-hailing company has already teamed with a major automaker in GM, the biggest tech company in the space with Google’s Waymo, and one of the most proven self-driving startups in its recent alliance with nuTonomy, which will aim to put self-driving Lyft vehicles on the streets of Boston sometime in the near future.
Next in line: Jaguar Land Rover (JLR). The UK-based automaker will partner with Lyft via a $25 million investment through Inmotion, its mobility services business. JLR will provide Lyft drivers with a fleet of cars as part of the deal, while the automaker will use Lyft’s new Open Platform to help develop its self-driving tech.
JLR’s investment gives it a stake in Lyft, but its not clear what exactly that means for the automaker. When GM invested in the ride-hailing company, it gained a seat on its board of directors — but the deal was much more substantial, valued at $500 million.
Most importantly, the investment could help with Lyft’s plans for expansion — with a UK-based investor, the company now has another foot outside the U.S. The ride-hailing company has previously partnered with a few Uber competitors in the Asian market, but it’s kept its sights largely trained on the U.S. market. JLR’s presence in the UK and Europe could open up more opportunities for Lyft to spread into even more cities in its mission to transform mobility.
The potential provided by Lyft’s Open Platform, which the company unveiled alongside its agreement with nuTonomy in a New York Times exclusive report, will likely mean that more agreements like this one could be in the works.
Specific details about the how the platform works aren’t available, and Lyft reps had no comment following our requests for more context. The system presumably harnesses the Lyft app’s software and collects data from its fleet of cars currently on the roads, since the language in the platform’s description mentions access to real-world data from the company’s nearly one million daily trips.
While Lyft’s biggest competitor, Uber, attempts to build out its own self-driving system, Lyft is instead choosing to focus on its main strength, its ride-hailing service, to fine-tune it for interested parties to use in their own autonomous vehicles.
Lyft might not have its own autonomous driving platform in the future — but it also doesn’t have a messy lawsuit on its hands with Alphabet that could torpedo the whole project. Since Lyft’s goal is to have a self-driving fleet on the road by 2021 to transform urban mobility, having as many partners working to reach the finish line will be essential.