Friday, 22 February, 2019

Perennial Runner-Up Lyft Joins Race to Develop Self-Driving Cars

Perennial Runner-Up Lyft Joins Race to Develop Self-Driving Cars Perennial Runner-Up Lyft Joins Race to Develop Self-Driving Cars
Nellie Chapman | 22 July, 2017, 00:26

"Lyft is not getting into the business of manufacturing a vehicle", Mr. Kapoor said.

"Lyft is also uniquely positioned to build technology in collaboration with partners in a way that will make it possible to roll out self-driving cars at scale in the fastest, safest, most efficient way", said Luc Vincent, Lyft's vice president of engineering. As the Associated Press reports, Lyft announced the launch of their new Level Five engineering division on Thursday, which will consist of about 200 employees by the end of the year, all based in Palo Alto.

Vincent, who joined Lyft early this year, previously spent 12 years at Google, where he led development of Google Street View, a part of Google Maps that provides panoramic views along many streets worldwide. With almost a million rides every day, Lyft says, that's a valuable trove of scenarios self-driving vehicle AIs could learn from.

Lyft had announced in June that it was partnering with nuTonomy, the technology company behind the autonomous cars. Lyft plans on bringing its newly developed autonomous vehicle research division to Palo Alto, California, and it reportedly hopes to hire "hundreds" of engineers to accelerate the program.

The decision follows the company's plan to move forward from its regular partnerships in the self-driving field and instead enter the market with its own technology. Kalanick did however step down as CEO last month. Unlike its far larger rival, Uber Technologies Inc, which has tackled everything from food delivery to flying cars, and expanded overseas, Lyft has operated strictly as a ride service for people in the United States.

Dozens of companies - automakers, Silicon Valley stalwarts and well-funded startups - are already hard at work on developing self-driving cars, which most experts expect to be a reality in the near future. Among Lyft's partners are Waymo, Google's self driving auto division; General Motors; nuTonomy, a self-driving vehicle startup out of MIT; and Jaguar Land Rover.

The other thing to consider, with all this talk of unleashing the unmanned robots to drive us, is the toll it will take on Uber and Lyft's human drivers.

According to executives of the company, Lyft will continue to operate its transport network but will eventually begin using autonomous cars together with human drivers in a "hybrid" network. Lyft also believes that it has a major advantage over automakers when it comes to data collection. Also, they note that there could be a point down the road when self-driving "kits" can be created and given to drivers to convert their existing cars to being autonomous.