Lyft and Waymo have announced that they are partnering to test driverless car technology. The companies confirmed the partnership on Sunday. In an email, a Lyft spokeswoman said, “We can confirm that we are partnering with Waymo to safely and responsibly launch self-driving vehicle pilots.”
Waymo and Lyft started discussing a partnership last summer, according to people familiar with the deal. A Waymo spokesman said, “We’re looking forward to working with Lyft to explore new self-driving products that will make our roads safer and transportation more accessible.”
Lyft is No. 2 among ride-hailing services in the United States, behind Uber. Waymo is the self-driving division of Google’s parent Alphabet. There are few details available about the deal between the two companies. There is no timeline for when the public might see the fruits of the collaboration or details on what types of products would be brought to market.
The Lyft spokeswoman said in the statement, “Waymo holds today’s best self-driving technology, and collaborating with them will accelerate our shared vision of improving lives with the world’s best transportation.” Waymo has been developing its self-driving technology for nearly a decade. It’s vehicles have been tested on closed tracks and open roads in Arizona, California, Texas, and Washington, logging more than three million miles in real-world testing.
Waymo is fiercely competing with Uber on autonomous car technology. The company recently filed a lawsuit over Uber’s alleged use of stolen Waymo trade secrets and intellectual property to develop its technology. Waymo is seeking a preliminary injunction to block Uber from using the allegedly stolen information. The injunction could halt some of Uber’s research until a trial concludes.
Last year, Uber acquired self-driving trucking start-up Otto for more than $680 million. Anthony Levandowski, a former key leader of Google’s self-driving car research and a founder of Otto, came as part of the deal. Waymo claims that Levandowski conspired with Uber to steal thousands of autonomous-vehicle research files before he left Google on his way to joining Uber.
Lyft and Uber are also bitter rivals. Numerous news stories about the competition between the two have been published over the last few years. Recently, Lyft has been benefiting from a wave of consumers that have quit Uber following a spate of workplace and legal problems. However, Lyft still remains a distance second in the ride-hailing marketplace.