Partners Lyft and Ford are laying the groundwork for their driverless ride-hailing plans. Today, the companies announced that Ford's Argo AI-powered cars will be available on Lyft's network later this year in Miami, followed by Austin in 2022. The move will allow passengers to choose a Ford self-driving vehicle with a safety driver in those regions when they book their ride from the app. By 2026, Ford plans to add 1,000 of its driverless vehicles to Lyft's fleet in multiple markets, a pact that the companies are in the process of finalizing.
The deployment should provide a shot in the arm for Lyft's autonomous ride-hailing ambitions. The company plans to get fully driverless fleets serving customers in multiple US cities in 2023. But, it suffered a setback last year when its self-driving partner Magna chose to shift to assisted driving products instead. The decision reflected wider concerns within the industry over the revenue-bleeding nature of autonomous driving. In December, Uber decided to sell its self-driving unit to startup Aurora as a belt-tightening maneuver.
Fortunately for Lyft, it's had close ties with Ford — which is aggressively pursuing its own self-driving goals —since 2017. The partnership between the two companies was forged on the back of Ford's $1 billion investment in autonomous vehicle startup Argo AI. Since then, the automaker has been testing its driverless vehicle service in Miami, Austin and Washington, D.C.
“Argo and Ford are currently piloting, mapping and preparing for commercial operations of autonomous vehicles in more cities than any other [autonomous vehicle] 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.