Waymo Partnering With Lyft On Self-Driving Technology

Ride-hailing firm Lyft is ready seize hold of an opportunity to partner with Google division Waymo on self-driving car technology as Waymo’s gap widens with market leader Uber.

The two companies will work together to make autonomous vehicle technology viable in the marketplace through pilot projects and product development. What started as news from two anonymous sources familiar with the matter was confirmed by the two companies.

The collaboration will bring more mobility services to people living in the world’s fast-growing cities, they say.

“Lyft’s vision and commitment to improving the way cities move will help Waymo’s self-driving technology reach more people, in more places,” a Waymo spokesman said.

Lyft is impressed with Waymo’s automated system, calling it “today’s best self-driving technology.”

Waymo has taken ride-hailing giant Uber to a heated court battle over allegedly stealing that technology.

Waymo’s parent company had been deeply connected to Uber, having invested $258 million into the startup through its Google Ventures unit. There was talk about the two companies partnering on self-driving car technology, with Uber launching its Advanced Technologies Center for self-driving vehicle trial runs in Pittsburgh and Waymo seeking partner companies.

Lyft and Waymo are keeping quiet on what types of products and ride services will be offered through the partnership. Timing has also been left out.

They won’t be able to wait too long, with partnerships and acquisitions being announced each month between automakers and leading technology firms. The two companies will want to tap into their competitive advantage and experience.

Waymo has led the way in miles driven for self-driving cars in test runs, and has been nurturing alliances with other companies. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has inked a deal with Waymo on a fleet of Chrysler Pacifica minivans. There’s also word out there that Honda is making a deal with Waymo to put its automated technology into Honda test vehicles.

Last year, General Motors and Lyft announced a project testing out autonomous Chevy Bolts through Lyft drivers and the general public in the near future. GM has believed enough in Lyft to make a sizable investment in Lyft.

The Waymo/Lyft partnership started up in discussion last summer, the New York Times reported after speaking to people familiar with the matter. Logan Green and John Zimmer, founders of Lyft, made site visits at each company’s campuses while in discussions with Waymo’s chief executive John Krafcik.

SEE ALSO:  Waymo Sues Uber for Intellectual Property Theft

Uber may see its self-driving vehicle division hurt by the outcome of the federal trial filed by Waymo. The Google unit has accused Uber of using Waymo’s intellectual property in its autonomous vehicles.

That charge came from allegations by Waymo aimed at Anthony Levandowski, who had been a leader in Google’s self-driving car research and a founder of the Otto self-driving truck firm. Waymo claims that Levandowski conspired with Uber to steal thousands of Google’s files before he left the tech giant last year to join up with Uber.

Uber had acquired the Otto startup, which led Waymo to investigation and then filing suit based on claims of intellectual property theft.

On Monday, the judge ruled that Uber must return the Waymo documents. The judge also said that Uber can continue working on self-driving car technology, but Levandowski must be removed from any work relating to a key automated technology called lidar.

New York Times