Ford, one of the oldest car manufacturers in America, announced Wednesday that it is teaming up with Lyft, a relatively new ride-sharing company, to bring people the future of driving: autonomous vehicles.
The move is significant because Lyft, which recently announced driverless car testing on the roads of San Francisco, is behind Uber in the on-demand taxi industry, as well as other tech companies. Working with Ford can potentially catalyze Lyft’s progress, and Ford, which has invested $1 billion for a driverless car project, expects its vehicles to have “full autonomy” by 2021. It’s partnership with Lyft may help create a future where autonomous Ford vehicles will be widely available to customers using the ride-sharing firm’s app.
Ford says it doesn’t necessarily need to race to the proverbial finish line of a marketable, fully functional autonomous vehicle.
“When ready, we’ll have self-driving cars operating alongside Lyft’s current community of drivers to help accommodate times of significant consumer demand to ensure that transportation remains timely and affordable,” Sherif Marakby, vice president of autonomous vehicles at Ford, wrote on a blog post. “Some view the opportunity with self-driving vehicles as a race to be first. But we are focusing our efforts on building a service based around actual people’s needs and wants. We are placing a high priority on safety and dependability so customers will trust the experience that our self-driving technology will one day enable.”
Ford and Lyft are just two of the dozens of companies that are competing to bring a fully-functional driverless car to the market. A large portion of the firms, like Lyft, aren’t even car or car part manufacturers.
These companies may feel as if they are getting the green light for development of the likely life-saving technology due to political happenings. The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill earlier in the month that loosens the reins over firms’ ability to test the capabilities. Not soon after, the Trump administration released instructive guidelines for the nascent, but growing, driverless car industry. There are several points within the 36-page document where the authors seemed to purposefully reference their light-touch strategy for the emerging field of transportation, letting businesses take the wheel.
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