Lyft debuts new autonomous vehicle unit

Published: July 24, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Brad Neal

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Ridesharing company Lyft announced Friday it is expanding into the development of autonomous vehicles technology. In a press release, the company says it is creating a special unit for autonomous vehicles, but it will pursue a different approach to other companies, like Uber.

In a release, the San Francisco company said it will open its network to allow collaboration with car manufacturers, tech companies, and investors to work on self-driving solutions. Lyft says it may even open source some of its software and sensor technologies.

The company believes it can increase development and bring technology to market faster by creating a collaborative and open environment.

“We believe this is inevitable where the world is going,” he said. “We need to be playing this role.”

Lyft has partnerships set up with companies like Google’s Waymo autonomous vehicle operation and with automotive giant General Motors. The ride-for-hire company says it has no interest in creating vehicles, but wants to work on a system that can become a standard across its network.

In the announcement, Lyft did not discuss plans for monetizing its proposed system, but it seems as though passenger fares will play a part.

The new autonomous vehicles unit is called “Level Five” and will employ several hundred people. Lyft says the unit will be based in Palo Alto, California, and will be operational before the end of the year.