Ford has announced that it will launch autonomous vehicles by the end of 2021 together with its partners Argo AI and Lyft. The three companies are working together to commercialize autonomous ride-hailing on a larger scale with each one contributing something toward a common goal. Argo AI brings in its self-driving tech while Ford will provide the fleet of vehicles that will be integrated into the Lyft fleet.
“This collaboration marks the first time all the pieces of the autonomous vehicle puzzle have come together this way,” said Logan Green, CEO, and co-founder of Lyft. “Each company brings the scale, knowledge, and capability in their area of expertise that is necessary to make autonomous ride-hailing a business reality.” The vehicles deployed on Lyft’s network will have safety drivers and are expected to start in Miami later this year followed by Austin, Texas in 2022 to lay down the necessary groundwork for scale operation in the future. Lyft users will be able to hail a self-driving Ford vehicle as more of them get deployed. In total, at least 1,000 autonomous vehicles will enter the Lyft network across multiple markets over a five-year time period.
“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,” said Bryan Salesky, founder, and CEO of Argo AI. “Beyond the link that Lyft provides to the customer, we’ll be able to work together to define where an autonomous service will benefit communities the most and ensure we’re deploying the technology safely.” Market and safety data will be used to define where self-driving technology can serve consumers safely. As part of the agreement, Argo AI will use anonymous service and fleet data from Lyft to address challenges surrounding autonomy, build a sustainable business, and validate its deployment via localized safety data. In return, Lyft will get a 2.5 percent common equity of Argo AI as part of the collaboration’s licensing and data agreements for commercializing autonomous vehicles.
“Argo and Ford are currently piloting, mapping and preparing for commercial operations of autonomous vehicles in more cities than any other AV collaboration, and this new agreement is a crucial step toward full commercial operations — the addition of Lyft’s world-class transportation network,” said Scott Griffith, CEO of Ford’s Autonomous Vehicles & Mobility Businesses division. “These three companies share a belief that autonomous vehicles will be a key enabler for a cleaner, safer, and more efficient urban mobility landscape. This is the beginning of an important relationship between three dynamic companies ultimately aiming to deliver a trusted, high-quality experience for riders in a multi-city large scale operation over time.”
To support the large-scale deployment of autonomous vehicles, Ford has strengthened its presence in Miami, Austin, and Washington D.C. This allows it to support commercial fleet operations including servicing, fueling, and cleaning the vehicles to make sure consumers get a great experience. Ford is also working with city leaders to create mobility solutions based on the needs of each one. Recently, Ford has been partnering with other companies in the tech and battery space. In addition to Argo AI and Lyft, SK Innovation was one of the latest collaborators to create better batteries for battery-electric vehicles.