Lyft Will Develop Its Own Autonomous Vehicle Technology

July 24, 2017 - 3 minutes read

Less than a year ago, most San Francisco iPad app developers saw Lyft as a somewhat friendlier Uber clone with no hope of crawling out of its competitor’s formidable shadow. But as Uber has spent the past several months weathering controversy after controversy, Lyft has found its opportunity to challenge the Goliath of the ride-hailing industry. Now the company is entering the budding driverless car industry, largely out of necessity. As Lyft’s chief strategy officer Raj Kapoor explained, “We believe it’s inevitable that this is where the world is going. We need to be playing this role. We can’t just look at partners to do it.”

It seems as if everyone in the tech world is betting on driverless cars right now, with Intel predicting that the industry built around self-driving vehicles will be worth a stunning $7 trillion by 2050. Lyft is predicting that most of its rides will be from autonomous vehicles well before that; John Zimmer, its president and co-founder, claimed that a majority of the service’s rides would be from driverless vehicles by 2021. As iPad app developers who have been keeping tabs on self-driving cars know, the ride-sharing app has forged partnerships with a number of companies to reach that goal, including NuTonomy, General Motors, and Waymo (who are of course locked into a very public lawsuit with Uber right now).

But as the company announced last week, it now plans to get in on the action, developing its own hardware and software kit for self-driving vehicles. Although Lyft’s plans are still a little fuzzy, the company is opening a massive new facility in Palo Alto to work on engineering new autonomous vehicle technology. By developing its own driverless tech, the company risks alienating some of its partners, but for now, nobody appears to be backing out of any deals. Competition may be heating up in the autonomous vehicle space, but some collaboration is going to be necessary if startups want to fast-track self-driving cars onto the roads. Lyft may be far behind its competitors in this arena, but with Uber still in turmoil, iPad app developers can see the path forward for Lyft. It’s a small opening, but the company has proven that it is determined to exploit it.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,