On Thursday, Lyft has announced its new plan to develop its own autonomous driving technology that would include opening a laboratory in Palo Alto that would help build the hardware and software for the technology.
This plan has been a real turn from Lyft’s previous strategy, with the company’s focus being partnerships with car manufacturers such as General Motors and Jaguar Land Rover and self-driving car startup nuTonomy.
This change of plans comes from the resignation of Uber’s founder, Travis Kalanick that followed a chain of scandals. Uber was testing self-driving cars since last year.
Lyft executives told press in an exclusive event that they are committed to its partnerships while working on this new project of self-driving cars.
The first step to this plan would be building a laboratory in Palo Alto, dubbed Level 5. The executives told the press that it will employ several hundred people by the end of next year. it is expected to be opened in the next few weeks.
Raj Kapoor, Lyft’s chief strategy officer said that this is a unique time for the company to take the lead and that Level 5 is the ultimate level for building autonomous vehicles and that it is going to be a center that is going to open to working with partners.
Self-driving cars are crucial to the success of both Lyft and Uber. These rivals have lost a major amount of money every year because of subsidizing discounts for riders and bonuses for drivers. Lyft lost $600 million while Uber lost $3 billion the same year, says Bloomberg.
Both companies are hoping to decrease their losses by replacing human drivers with self-driving cars. But this Thursday, Lyft has announced that they will have drivers take over the self-driving cars in a situation too chaotic for the autonomous vehicles to handle by themselves.
Lyft’s focus on finding a balance can be seen in the company saying it will work with its partners. Lyft said it had been sharing its application codes with its smart car-building partners so that they can plug Lyft into their future car models.
Lyft has also said that if its in-house self-driving technology reaches maturity, it will stop building cars themselves and give the automobile industry a chance for doing it.
Kapoor stated that Lyft isn’t trying to get into car manufacturing business and stated that the auto industry has done a fantastic job in safety and reliability for many, many years and that they respect that.