Ford, Argo AI Launching Self-Driving Lyft Service
Ford Motor Company and Argo AI are partnering with rideshare provider Lyft to pilot autonomous ride-hailing services. The deployment will involve a fleet of Ford self-driving cars with safety drivers on board. Ford says it will launch the self-driving Lyft service in Miami later in 2021 and in Austin in 2022.
The companies will use the process of deploying the first round of vehicles as a roadmap to scale the operation with at least 1,000 autonomous vehicles on the Lyft network in other areas over the next five years.
“These three companies share a belief that autonomous vehicles will be a key enabler for a cleaner, safer, and more efficient urban mobility landscape,” said Scott Griffith, Ford Autonomous Vehicles and Mobility Businesses CEO. This partnership is just the beginning of the work that can be done, he said, noting that the ultimate goal is “to deliver a trusted, high-quality experience for riders in a multi-city large scale operation over time.”
Data collected through the Lyft deployment will help Ford and Argo determine the safest places that self-driving cars can serve consumers. The deal includes an agreement that Argo will receive anonymized service and fleet data for analysis. In return, Lyft will pick up 2.5-percent common equity in Argo AI. “Beyond the link that Lyft provides to the customer, we’ll be able to work together to define where an autonomous service will benefit communities the most and ensure we’re deploying the technology safely,” said Bryan Salesky, Argo AI’s founder, and CEO.
This development is another step in Argo’s work with Ford, which started with a five-year, $1 billion investment from the automaker in 2017. At that time, Ford stated it intended to have a fully autonomous, SAE Level 4-capable vehicle available for commercial uses in mobility services by 2021. Ford tasked Argo with helping create the virtual driver system behind it. Though Argo’s primary focus has been supporting Ford’s initiatives, it could eventually license its autonomous technologies to other automakers.
This announcement is just the tip of the iceberg for Ford and Argo AI. The two have conducted vehicle testing in Miami, Austin, and Washington, D.C. for years. The automaker recently expanded its presence in the south Florida metropolis with plans for a 140,000 square-foot space that supports customer relations, business development, and more.
Ford is the source of information for this article. It was accurate on July 22, 2021, but it may have changed since that date.