Ford Motor and its autonomous driving arm, Argo AI, have formed an alliance with Lyft in an effort to start offering rides by self-driving cars.
Ford is expected to begin operating self-driving cars in Miami through Lyft’s ride-hailing service this year. Vehicles will be equipped with Argo’s self-driving technology, but will still have to have a driver to ensure safety.
“Moving from testing to a commercial service, while still employing safe operators behind the wheel, is a huge step forward,” Argo chief executive Bryan Salesky wrote in a statement. blog post about the partnership. “But to provide driverless vehicles from there is a bigger step forward. It requires validation that the technology is reaching a level of self-driving performance that is arguably safer than what we see on the streets today.”
The three companies hope to have self-driving cars operating in Austin, Texas next year. They aim to have a few dozen vehicles in operation in Miami and Austin and hope to have around 1,000 in multiple cities within five years.
Under the partnership, Lyft will hold a 2.5% stake in Argo. In return, Lyft agreed to share data it collects about car-sharing with Ford and Argo. Ford and Volkswagen each own about 40% of Argo.
Waymo, the autonomous driving company owned by Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has been testing a limited driverless ride-hailing service in Phoenix for several years. Argo has tested about 150 autonomous vehicles in six US cities as well as in Germany.
Just a few years ago, automakers and tech companies were expected to make rapid progress in rolling out self-driving cars. But they found that completing the necessary hardware and software was more difficult than initially thought.
Two years ago, Tesla chief executive Elon Musk predicted that his company would have a million self-driving taxis on the road by 2020. But it’s still developing its fully self-driving software, and on file with California regulators. has said that the system cannot control a car without a driver and that it may never achieve that capability.