Ford To Deploy Self-Driving Cars in Collaboration With Argo AI and Lyft By End of 2021

Kimberly Redmond  |

Image source: Argo AI, Lyft and Ford Motor

Ford Motor Company (NYSE:  F) plans to deploy the first self-driving cars with its partner Argo AI on ride-share service Lyft Inc’s (Nasdaq:  LYFT) network by the end of 2021. 

In a press release on Wednesday, the companies said the first self-driving Ford cars — which will have a safety driver present — are slated to hit the streets of Miami, Florida, later this year and Austin, Texas, starting in 2022. 

The initial deployment is part of a pilot program that seeks to lay the groundwork for commercializing autonomous ride hailing at scale, according to the press release. 

The ultimate goal, the companies said, is to roll out at least 1,000 driverless cars on the Lyft network across multiple markets over the next five years.

Bloomberg News noted that the deal brings together three crucial elements needed to make robot rides available to the masses — a big carmaker, an autonomous technology company and a major ride-share platform. 

“This collaboration marks the first time all the pieces of the autonomous vehicle puzzle have come together this way,“ Lyft co-founder and chief executive officer Logan Green said.

“Each company brings the scale, knowledge and capability in their area of expertise that is necessary to make autonomous ride-hailing a business reality.”

Bryan Salesky, Argo’s founder and chief executive officer, said, “This collaboration is special because we’re executing on a shared vision for improving the safety, access to and affordability of transportation in our cities.”

Under the partnership, Argo will have access to Lyft’s anonymized service and fleet data, which will help determine where the companies can build a sustainable autonomous ride share business. 

As part of the agreement, Lyft will receive 2.5% common equity of Argo AI, the Ford and Volkswagen-backed start-up that is reportedly preparing to go public as soon as this year.

Bloomberg reported that the new deal could increase Argo’s valuation from $7 billion to an estimated $12.4 billion.

Ford and Argo initially partnered in 2019 to develop autonomous vehicles and have been testing fleets nationwide in Austin, Detroit, Miami, Palo Alto, Pittsburgh and Washington, DC. 

Scott Griffith, chief executive officer of Ford autonomous vehicles and mobility businesses, said the two companies are continuing to pilot, map and prepare for “commercial operations of autonomous vehicles in more cities than any other AV collaboration.”

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Ford and Lyft first began collaborating in 2017 to figure out how to deploy self-driving cars on Lyft's platform in large numbers.  

Incorporating Lyft’s “world class transportation network,” Griffith said, “is a crucial step toward full commercial operations.”

Many companies and automakers have promised robo taxi services in the US for years, but so far Alphabet Inc’s Google affiliate, Waymo, is the only one to pick riders up and charge them a fare. Waymo’s self-driving minivans are available in Chandler, Arizona, just outside of Phoenix, and it is not yet known when the service could expand.  

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Source: Equities News

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