As the race to build the first commercially viable self-driving car hots up, a number of major players in the technology and automotive industries continue to position themselves, hoping to grab a slice of the potentially lucrative pie. This has led to a number of high-profile alliances being formed. Alphabet has its own arm dedicated to the technology in Waymo, which was spun off from Google late last year, and it has been keen to form useful partnerships where it can. The latest test vehicle is a minivan built by Chrysler, for instance. Now Waymo has a new ally in the form of ride-hailing start-up Lyft.
It's no secret that Waymo and Lyft are both bitter rivals to the biggest name in ride-hailing, Uber, so this alliance could prove mutually beneficial when it comes to that particular battle. Waymo is currently suing Uber for allegedly stealing trade secrets relating to its autonomous vehicle technology. And with Lyft a distant second to Uber in the US (and even further behind globally) it sees such partnerships as vital if it's to claw back any significant market share. Lyft also has other deals in place, with General Motors for example, and Waymo is talking to Honda at present about the potential of using the automaker's cars for testing. If all of these companies were to work together in a connected alliance they would be rather formidable.
While there are few details at this point as to what exactly Waymo and Lyft will collaborate on, the deal could imply that the project is at an advanced enough stage to consider commercialization and ride-hailing would seem the obvious route to go down to monetize the technology. The dream of summoning a driverless car using an app on your phone and having it chauffeur you to your chosen destination might be closer than you think.
- New York Times