Back in 2017, Ford made a significant investment in an artificial intelligence startup called Argo that harbored big ambitions in the self-driving vehicle space. The pair are now bringing Lyft into the fold in an effort to deploy autonomous ride-hailing on a commercial scale, with the first rides to take place later this year.
Ford teamed up with Argo AI hoping to combine its own expertise in vehicle manufacturing with the startup’s specialist knowledge in robotics and artificial intelligence. The automaker sees Lyft and its network as the ideal means to deploy the self-driving vehicle technology it has developed in the interim, and its self-driving cars will start taking passengers on the Lyft network in Miami later this year.
“This collaboration marks the first time all the pieces of the autonomous vehicle puzzle have come together this way,“ says Lyft co-founder and CEO Logan Green. “Each company brings the scale, knowledge and capability in their area of expertise that is necessary to make autonomous ride-hailing a business reality.”
The Ford self-driving vehicles that will be deployed on Lyft’s ride-hailing network will come with safety drivers onboard, and users in certain areas of Miami will be able to select a vehicle through the Lyft service. The idea is that (anonymized) market and safety data gained through this initial pilot will inform efforts to expand and scale up the service, with further rides slated for Austin in 2022.
“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.
Ultimately, there are plans to scale up the service and deploy 1,000 autonomous vehicles in multiple markets over the next five years.