Uber is getting a big competition with respect to self-driving cars. Google’s self-driving division called Waymo is now partnering with Uber’s biggest competitor in the US Lyft. According to people familiar with the deal, the companies are expected to work together to bring self-driving cars to the public roads just months after Uber started testing its own self-driving cars on American roads.
A spokesperson for Lyft confirmed the story and said in a statement that “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,” and this was followed by a statement by a Waymo official who said “Lyft’s vision and commitment to improving the way cities move will help Waymo’s self-driving technology reach more people, in more places.”
Right now that’s all we know until details of the deal are released to the public hut this just underscores the role self-driving cars could play in the future of transportation.
While Lyft comes a distant second at least when you compare its $7.5b market value to that of Uber’s $70b, its partnership with a Google backed Waymo could have a long term positive effect on the company with respect to future investments. Waymo and Uber have been locked in legal battle over ownership of self-driving secrets which Waymo says Uber stole.
The news here is that Waymo owns the technology and is deep pocketed (based in its Google connections) while Lyft has the passenger network which Waymo could leverage on and it becomes a win-win for both even though Uber keeps expanding its share in the US market.
Seeing as Uber has now declared interest in flying cars, this might just be a sign of its confidence that it will continue to lead the self-driving car era.
Uber is partnering with Volvo to bring self-driving cars to public roads while Waymo is partnering with Fiat Chrysler and the portfolio gets bigger when you consider Lyft’s partnership with General Motors.
Lyft raised about $600m in funding in April while Uber is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in its Pittsburgh facility to fine tune the technology even as US authorities work out the details of how self-driving cars will be regulated on public roads in future.