There is no doubt self-driving vehicles will have an impact on how people and goods will move more efficiently in the future. But the magnitude of that impact — and how quickly self-driving vehicles can benefit society — will largely depend on businesses, government and the public working together.

Ford announced a significant step toward bringing self-driving vehicles to the masses thanks to a new partnership with Lyft that will help both companies progress toward a more affordable, dependable and accessible transportation future.

As Ford continues making progress on developing self-driving technology — through their self-driving vehicle and Argo AI’s virtual driver system — They are simultaneously building out the infrastructure and systems necessary to make it easy for people to use the service. Lets say: Someday, when the user open the Lyft app during a period of high demand, Ford and Lyft software will need to be capable of quickly dispatching a self-driving vehicle so that the user can get to their destination as quickly and as safely as possible.

And that’s where work with Lyft begins.

Lyft has a network of customers, growing demand for rides and strong knowledge of transportation flow within cities. Ford has experience with autonomous vehicle technology development and large scale manufacturing. Both companies have fleet management and big data experience. With their combined capabilities, they believe they can effectively share information to help make the best decisions for the future. Among the questions they’ll be answering together:

  • How do they create their technology platform so that it can easily connect with a partner’s platform (such as Lyft’s) to effectively dispatch a self-driving vehicle?
  • Based on their shared data and information, which cities should they work with to deliver their self-driving vehicle service?
  • What kind of infrastructure will be necessary to service and maintain a fleet of self-driving vehicles to ensure they are available whenever a consumer needs one?

Some view the opportunity with self-driving vehicles as a race to be first. But they are focusing their efforts on building a service based around actual people’s needs and wants. They are placing a high priority on safety and dependability so customers will trust the experience that their self-driving technology will one day enable.

As they build their technology platform, they will deploy human-driven vehicles on Lyft’s network. This will allow coustomers to test their platform interface to ensure compatibility with Lyft’s customer-facing platform — the one we currently see whenever you open the Lyft app. Their developer teams already are working together, programming Their systems so they can communicate with one another. The goal is that customers using Lyft won’t notice any difference in their experience.

They will also connect their self-driving test vehicles to Lyft’s network. They don’t, however, plan to put customers in them until they are certain that their technology delivers a positive, reassuring experience where they can gain meaningful feedback. When ready, they’ll have self-driving cars operating alongside Lyft’s current community of drivers to help accommodate times of significant consumer demand to ensure that transportation remains timely and affordable.

Source: Ford