Waymo, a subsidiary of Google-mother Alphabet, which develops autonomous vehicles and related services, has formally extended its scope and is now making some of its self-drive mini-buses available to Lyft's customers. The ride is limited to a small area just outside Phoenix, Arizona, where Waymo tests self-guided vehicles and has launched its own autonomous service called Waymo One.
The limited partnership between Waymo and Lyft is the company's last example of working with more companies as it develops autonomous vehicles and services. Earlier this month, Waymo made a deal with Nissan and Renault to build auto-controlled cars.
With its partnership with Lyft, Waymo's CEO John Krafchik believes that the relationship enables them to gather valuable feedback. For Waymo, he can better judge how society interacts with a self-managed car. Until now, those who drifted in Waymo vehicles in the Phoenix area were previously reviewed and accepted in Waymo's Early Rider program. Later this year, a subsidiary of General Motors Cruise is expected to unveil an autonomous travel service in a small area in or near San Francisco.
Uber, who dominates the US stock market, is also working on his own fleet of self-managed vehicles. Earlier this month, Erik Meehofer, head of Uber's advanced technology group, told CNBC that his company is working to deploy self-driving cars without safety drivers in limited areas. But he claims that Uber wants to be in the "favor of public confidence and regulatory confidence" before deciding when to release Uber vehicles without someone behind the wheel.
"No one knows the technical answers correctly and certainly no one knows the right answer for building a business model," she said . "So I think there will be a lot of partnerships, switching partners and inventing strategies before they settle, and I think that's a way to stop."
For the time being, Waymo only makes a handful of its vehicles in the Phoenix area, and ultimately, up to 1
When Lyft customers in some Phoenix suburbs call up the phone and search for a trip they will be offered the chance to be transferred to Waymo's own minivan or a traditional Lyft driver with a driver. The Waymo minivans in the Lyft program will all have a driver behind the wheel.