Lyft Users Will Soon Be Able to Summon a Self-Driving Waymo Minivan in Arizona
Google is holding its annual I/O developer conference this week in Mountain View, CA, announcing all of the latest news from the company. One of today's big announcements comes in a blog post from Waymo CEO John Krafcik, who said that Waymo's self-driving minivans will be offered on ride-hailing company Lyft's app.
It's the first time that Waymo is sharing its autonomous vehicle technology with a competing ride-hailing company.
Waymo is the self-driving division of parent Alphabet and is focused on "building the world's most experienced driver."
In a blog post today, Krafcik said that Waymo will deploy ten self-driving vehicles on Lyft's network over the next few months. Once the self-driving Waymo vehicles are on the platform, Lyft users in the area will have the option to select one directly from the Lyft app for certain rides.
For most of the people using Lyft, the ride in a Waymo self-driving minivan will be the first time they experience being a passenger in a self-driving vehicle, and another good way for Waymo to show off its latest software to the public.
"We're excited to collaborate with the Lyft team as we build the world's Most Experienced Driver, bringing fully self-driving technology to the world to improve road safety and make it easier for people to get around." Waymo wrote in a blog post.
Waymo said in a blog post that its committed to continuously improving the customer experience, and its partnership with Lyft will also give Waymo the opportunity to collect valuable feedback from passengers, including how comfortable they are with riding in a self-driving car and how they use the service.
Waymo spun out of Google's early self-driving car program. The company has been working on driverless technology for the past decade, racking up millions of miles on public roads and billions more in simulation with its fleet of autonomous vehicles, all without a major incident.
Waymo launched an early version of its upcoming commercial self-driving ride-hailing service called Waymo One six months ago in the Metro Phoenix area. The company says it currently has 1,000 riders in its "Early Rider Program" that get access to Waymo cars each day to commute to and from work, run errands, drop their kids off at school, go grocery shopping.
Waymo has plans to expands its commercial ride-hailing service to other cities, eventually adding thousands of self-driving vehicles to its platform. The Waymo One ride-hailing service might eventually compete with both Lyft and Uber.
Both Lyft and its chief U.S. rival Uber are developing driverless technology and Lyft's partnership with Waymo might open the door to other collaborations within the industry.
Lyft became the first ride-hailing company to go public in the U.S., beating rival Uber to an IPO. Lyft's stock began trading on March 29. Since then, Lyft's shares fell 31% from their opening trade of $87.24.
Lyft and Uber have struggled to curb massive losses and both companies remain unprofitable. Uber is launching its own IPO this week and is looking for a valuation up to $100 billion.
One path towards profitability is replacing its drivers with autonomous driving vehicles, or even leasing the vehicles from Waymo.
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