Waymo-Lyft’s Driverless Car Partnership Is a Threat to Uber

May 17, 2017 - 2 minutes read

Internet of things app developers are probably familiar with the old saying, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” That bit of wisdom appears to be behind the new partnership between Waymo and Lyft, two rivals to ride-hailing giant Uber. Lyft has lagged behind Uber in the ride-hailing market, consistently stuck in second place in a crowded field with only a fraction of Uber’s market share. Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving unit, is currently locked in a heated legal battle with Uber over trade secrets and stolen technology. Despite kicking off the year with a string of controversies, Uber remains the Goliath in ride-hailing and a major competitor in self-driving cars. This blossoming friendship between Lyft and Waymo could take it down a peg.

The exact details of the collaboration are still vague, but reports suggest that Waymo and Lyft will be working together on both pilot projects and developing new autonomous-driving products. In a statement, Waymo 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.” Soon, app developers in select cities may be able to use Lyft to hail one of Waymo’s self-driving cars. But Waymo is not the only self-driving car outfit to partner with Lyft in bringing driverless cars onto the streets. The ride-hail company also works with GM, who bought self-driving startup Cruise last year.

Mobile app developers put together a ride-hailing app for Waymo that is currently testing in Arizona, and Alphabet subsidiary Waze also has a ride-share service that could be used to promote Waymo’s driverless cars. But Lyft is a more established service, and it has been seeking to capitalize on Uber’s recent woes to capture more market share. Although it is somewhat behind in the self-driving car arena, this collaboration could be Lyft’s ticket forward. And with a public trial likely in the Waymo-Uber dispute, Uber’s autonomous driving program is in a precarious position. Uber is still the one to beat, but Waymo and Lyft’s team-up could be the one to beat it.

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