U.S. ride-sharing company Lyft is teaming up with Alphabet’s self-driving unit Waymo to test autonomous vehicles on our roads. Announcing the deal earlier today, the companies said they will work together to bring autonomous vehicle technology into the mainstream.
The global autonomous vehicle market is experiencing exponential growth, as companies race to be the first to bring the technology to market. These vehicles will decrease road congestion, cut costs and change the way people use transportation. The latest market research expects the market to value $83 billion by 2025, with the highest investment opportunities in artificial intelligence and vision sensors.
Waymo is one of the leading players in the autonomous vehicle technology market and has been looking for partners for some time. Talks between Waymo and Lyft, which offers ride-sharing service in over 300 U.S. cities, are said to have began last summer.
“We can confirm that we are partnering with Waymo to safely and responsibly launch self-driving vehicle pilots,” Lyft said in a statement. “Waymo holds today’s best self-driving technology, and collaborating with them will accelerate our shared vision of improving lives with the world’s best transportation.”
A Waymo spokesman said, “Lyft’s vision and commitment to improving the way cities move will help Waymo’s self-driving technology reach more people, in more places.”
The companies share a common rival in Uber Technologies. Lyft is Uber’s main competitor in the ride-sharing market, while Waymo is currently embroiled in a legal battle with the San-Francisco based transportation company.
Waymo filed a lawsuit in February, which claims Anthony Levandowski had stolen 14,000 confidential documents before leaving Google to become vice president at Uber. According to Waymo, Levandowski used the stolen technology to entice Uber into buying his self-driving truck startup Otto for $680 million in 2016. Uber denied the accusations, but were forced to admit that Waymo’s self-driving technology was significantly ahead of its own.
The deal puts Waymo and Lyft in the driving seat in the incredibly competitive self-driving vehicle market. Other companies working on driverless technology include Tesla and Apple, and numerous other technology firms and automakers.
The companies also confirmed that the deal is non-exclusive and will allow Lyft to continue working with U.S. automaker General Motors. Starting in 2018 GM intends to deploy “thousands” of self-driving electric cars in partnership with Lyft, according to Reuters.
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