The partnership, which will come as a huge blow to embattled taxi firm Uber, will see Waymo, the self-driving arm of Google’s parent company, and Lyft attempt to commercialize autonomous vehicle technology by working together on pilot projects and product development, according to the New York Times. Both companies confirmed their intentions to team up, but refrained from providing any further details.
“Lyft’s vision and commitment to improving the way cities move will help Waymo’s self-driving technology reach more people, in more places,” Waymo said in a statement. A spokeswoman for Lyft added: “Waymo holds today’s best self-driving technology, and collaborating with them will accelerate our shared vision of improving lives with the world’s best transportation.”
The partnership between these two companies appears to make perfect sense. Waymo, which recently experimented with a mobile app in Phoenix that summons self-driving minivans to chauffeur volunteers around the city, is now edging closer to commercializing its technology after nearly a decade of development. With Lyft’s widespread network of taxis now at its disposal, the California-based company is ideally placed to to take its technology mainstream.
Meanwhile, by gaining access to Google’s revolutionary technology, Lyft is arguably in a better position to challenge Uber’s crown. Autonomous cars have been identified as a pivotal way for ride-hailing companies to boost profits as drivers currently earn up to 80 percent of fares. (See also: How do Ridesharing Companies Like Uber Make Money?)
Alphabet’s decision to partner with Lyft, rather than Uber, perhaps shouldn’t come as a big surprise. The technology giant is currently involved in a legal battle with the world’s biggest ride-hailing company over allegations that it stole trade secrets from Waymo to develop its own self-driving car. (See also: Waymo Sues Uber for Theft of Self-Driving Tech.)