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The two companies partner in hopes of propelling futuristic robo-car user experience forward
The drive to advance autonomous vehicles has given rise to some interesting partnerships, starting with GM's investment in Lyft early last year to Alphabet and Apple's partnership with car rental companies Avis and Hertz this past summer.
Lyft has been increasingly active in expanding its partnership base to start testing driverless ride-sharing services, most recently partnering with Drive.ai. This follows partnerships with Google's Waymo in March and nuTonomy in June.
If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, its latest partnership is very relevant as Drive.ai will enable Lyft to test driverless cars using Drive.ai technology.
Drive.ai, a relatively new startup founded in 2015 with $62 million in financing to date, has carved out a role in enabling autonomous driving by providing the "brain" for these vehicles. Its AI software utilizes "deep learning" to support the self-driving system. Deep learning is achieved by taking all of the data collected by sensors, located in strategic positions around the car, and feeding it into an algorithm designed to make decisions based on the information provided.
Need a Lyft? This company provides exactly what an autonomous vehicle tech startup, like Drive.ai, is looking for: An instant pool of passengers in need of rides, and a platform capable of quickly relaying road conditions and route information so that Drive.ai can identify real-life situations.
Lyft's app already provides for rating and sharing feedback, which Drive.ai could use to immediately gauge its performance, as well as learn how it can improve the human experience.
Drive.ai plans to start this "pilot" program out small. As safety and user experience trend in a positive direction, the next step is to expand the Bay Area program, as well as look into the other 350 cities Lyft currently services.
Lyft has been working on its own autonomous vehicle technology ever since it announced its intention to do so on July 21. It's opened a new self-driving-research facility in Palo Alto, CA, and "dedicated 10% of its engineers to develop self-driving technology," according to Luc Vincent, president of autonomous technology at Lyft.
Lyft's recent activity into the autonomous vehicle space appears to be in response to Uber, Lyft's main competitor. Uber has been opening autonomous driving research facilities in Canada and the U.S., as well as developing its own "open platform" aimed at developing autonomous vehicle technology together with automobile manufacturers and tech companies.
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