Ford and Lyft partner to work on self-driving vehicles
Ford and Lyft have announced a new partnership that will “help both companies progress toward a more affordable, dependable and accessible transportation future” using self-driving vehicles, according to Sherif Marakby, Ford Vice President, Autonomous Vehicles and Electrification.
Via an article with Medium.com, Marakby says that the companies will leverage their strengths in their respective fields—such as Ford’s experience with autonomous vehicle technology development and large scale manufacturing, Lyft’s network of customers, a growing demand for rides and strong knowledge of transportation flow within cities, and both companies’ experience with fleet management and big data—to “effectively share information to help make the best decisions for the future.”
“We expect that our partnership with Lyft will accelerate our efforts to build a profitable and viable self-driving vehicle business,” Marakby says.
“With Lyft’s network and respected brand experience, we expect our ability to scale self-driving vehicles will play a critical role in safely bringing this technology — and its many benefits — to mainstream consumers.”
While working together, the two companies will look to answer several questions, including:
· How does Ford create its technology platform so that it can easily connect with a partner’s platform, like Lyft’s, to effectively dispatch a self-driving vehicle?
· Based on the shared data and information between the companies, which cities should Ford and Lyft work with to deliver their self-driving vehicle service?
· And, “what kind of infrastructure will be necessary to service and maintain a fleet of self-driving vehicles to ensure they are available whenever a consumer needs one?”
As the technology platform is being built, Ford will deploy human-driven vehicles on Lyft’s network, which will allow the platform interface to be tested to make sure that it is compatible with Lyft’s customer-facing platform, the same one that customers see when they open the Lyft app.
The developer teams are working together to program the systems so that they can communicate with one another, with the goal being Lyft customers not noticing any difference in their experience.
Marakby says that Ford will connect its self-driving test vehicles to Lyft’s network, but Ford doesn’t plan for customers to ride in those vehicles until the company is certain that the technology “delivers a positive, reassuring experience” where meaningful feedback can be gained.
When the time does come for customers to ride in the self-driving vehicles, those vehicles will share the road with Lyft’s community of drivers in an effort to “help accommodate times of significant consumer demand to ensure that transportation remains timely and affordable.”