Program to launch in Miami later this year, Austin to follow
Vehicles will still have safety driver
Ford, Lyft, and Argo AI say that they will have commercialized autonomous ride-hailing at scale. Unlike most such announcements, they don’t mean a perpetual two years down the road, instead, the companies are saying it will start in Miami this year and in Austin the next.
“This collaboration marks the first time all the pieces of the autonomous vehicle puzzle have come together this way,“ Lyft co-founder and CEO Logan Green said. “Each company brings the scale, knowledge and capability in their area of expertise that is necessary to make autonomous ride-hailing a business reality.”
Argo AI is Ford’s autonomous vehicle development company and will deploy what the announcement calls self-driving Fords for passenger rides starting later this year in Miami. Users of the Lyft ride-hail app will be able to select a self-driving Ford for their ride in a defined service area.
While the companies didn’t say how many vehicles would be involved in the Miami debut, they are working on agreements to see “at least 1,000 autonomous vehicles on the Lyft network, across multiple markets over the next five years.”
The vehicles, at least to start, will still have safety drivers. Meaning that someone will be behind the wheel, in theory ready to take control of the vehicle with little or no notice in case of a situation the computers can’t handle.
Also as part of the agreement, Argo will use service and fleet data from Lyft to develop its systems while Lyft will receive a 2.5 percent stake in Argo AI.
“Argo and Ford are currently piloting, mapping and preparing for commercial operations of autonomous vehicles in more cities than any other AV collaboration, and this new agreement is a crucial step toward full commercial operations – the addition of Lyft’s world-class transportation network,” said Scott Griffith, CEO, Ford Autonomous Vehicles & Mobility Businesses.