An autonomous driving technology startup Argo AI, Ford, and the urban transport by application company Lyft are working together to commercialize autonomous ride-hailing at scale, with passenger rides beginning in Miami later this year and in Austin starting in 2022.
The unique collaboration brings together all of the parts necessary to create a viable autonomous ride-hailing service, including the self-driving technology, vehicle fleet, and transportation network needed to support a scalable business and deliver an exceptional experience for riders.
Ford hopes to combine its own expertise in vehicle manufacturing with Argo AI’s specialist knowledge in robotics and artificial intelligence. Ford sees Lyft and its network as the ideal means to deploy the self-driving vehicle technology it has developed in the interim.
Ford self-driving cars will be deployed on the Lyft network with safety drivers. As vehicles are deployed, Lyft users within the defined service areas will be able to select a Ford self-driving vehicle to hail a ride. Over the next five years, companies want the service to deploy at least 1,000 autonomous vehicles on the Lyft network across multiple markets.
The collaboration is designed to scale autonomous vehicle deployment using market and safety data that helps define where self-driving technology can safely serve consumers. As part of the agreement, Argo will use anonymized service and fleet data from Lyft to overcome the challenges faced by other autonomous vehicle companies by focusing on where they can build a sustainable business and validate deployment through localized safety data.
“Argo and Ford are currently piloting, mapping and preparing for commercial operations of autonomous vehicles in more cities than any other AV collaboration, and this new agreement is a crucial step toward full commercial operations – the addition of Lyft’s world-class transportation network,” said Scott Griffith, CEO, Ford Autonomous Vehicles & Mobility Businesses. “These three companies share a belief that autonomous vehicles will be a key enabler for a cleaner, safer, and more efficient urban mobility landscape. This is the beginning of an important relationship between three dynamic companies ultimately aiming to deliver a trusted, high-quality experience for riders in a multi-city large scale operation over time.”