While several companies are building autonomous vehicles, government regulations in various countries are less likely to allow a fully autonomous vehicle in the near term. Instead of developing its own self-driving technology, Lyft aimed to forge partnerships with multiple automakers from the start. The companies didn't give a time frame for integrating services. The companies will also cooperate on the infrastructure needed to make the service work. GM plans to deploy thousands of self-driving electric taxis by next year, Reuters reported in February.
The initial aim of the partnership is to combine the strengths of each company. Meanwhile, Lyft has a network of customers and extensive knowledge of how traffic flows in a city.
An IPO that values Lyft higher than its current $7.5 billion "is a step in a long journey toward self-driving" vehicles, said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of LMC Automotive. Marakby says the company has already begun working with Lyft to program their systems to be able to communicate with one another. This partnership will enable Ford to understand the technology requirements to integrate its vehicles with a ride hailing app which can effectively dispatch a auto "on demand" to a customer. Marakby said that the partnership will help both companies progress toward "a more affordable, dependable, and accessible transportation future".
Another startup is going after Uber in the race to get self-driving cars on the road. Last month, Ford reached an agreement with Domino's Pizza to test pizza delivery using its self-driving Ford Fusion Hybrid in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
A public offering by Lyft, which offers similar services to Uber and markets itself as a friendlier company, is "a proxy for whether next-generation mobility is as disruptive as private investors think it is", said venture capitalist Evangelos Simoudis of Synapse Partners. As NYT noted, though, Lyft's partners have their own goals that could cause conflicts along the way. General Motors invested $500 million into Lyft a year ago and is also working with the company on self-driving vehicles.