The Google spinoff says it will partner with Lyft, Uber’s biggest ride-hailing rival, to help test and launch self-driving cars.
Having access to this new technology would be a big coup for Lyft, as Waymo’s self-driving efforts are ― quite literally ― miles ahead of the pack. Waymo announced last month that it plans to add 500 self-driving cars to its fleet, and the vehicles are improving as they come online.
Compared to Waymo ― and Uber, which has an entire division dedicated to autonomous research ― Lyft’s efforts on self-driving vehicles are badly lagging. The company partnered with GM early last year, but isn’t ready to test a fleet. It only has a few GM research vehicles (for now).
Both Lyft and Waymo confirmed to HuffPost the news of their partnership, although neither company could share details about the deal ― which comes at a curious time. Waymo is currently engaged in a fierce legal battle with Uber, as it has accused the company of stealing the self-driving technology it’s now sharing with Lyft.
“We’re looking forward to working with Lyft to explore new self-driving products that will make our roads safer and transportation more accessible,” a Waymo spokeswoman told HuffPost. “Lyft’s vision and commitment to improving the way cities move will help Waymo’s self-driving technology reach more people, in more places.”
Lyft has a history of teaming up with Uber’s rivals, albeit with limited success. In 2015, it partnered with the Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing while Uber attempted to make inroads in the country. The partnership skidded to a halt last summer, however, after Uber agreed to sell its Chinese operations and take an ownership stake in Didi.