Lyft has announced that it will employ hundreds of people as part of its efforts to develop its own technology for self-driving cars.
The company said that its new factory in Palo Alto, California, would eventually be staffed by "several hundred" engineers. The company also said that these engineers would consult with self-driving experts from other companies in order to help Lyft get its self-driving program off the ground more quickly and efficiently.
A Shift In Lyft's Policy Regarding Self-Driving Cars
This latest announcement marks a major shift in Lyft's previous policies regarding self-driving cars. Previously, the company said that it was content to allow other companies to create self-driving cars for use in its network, but would not develop the technology on its own. In fact, the company recently announced a partnership with Alphabet's self-driving division, Waymo. This move could see Lyft and Waymo end up as competitors some day.
That being said, it's possible that Lyft's previous partnerships might still bear fruit as the company has said that it would be willing work with others on this venture. The company will not be making the cars themselves so car manufacturers have little to fear from this particular venture.
A Big Move For Lyft
One of the reasons this move is such a surprising one is due to the scale it represents. While the second largest ride-sharing service in the United States, Lyft is still much smaller than its rival Uber who has expanded overseas and into multiple different fields such as food delivery. Lyft, on the other hand, has contented itself with providing a ride-sharing service only within the United States.
Still, this move is a logical one. Self-driving cars are, by many, considered the future of transportation so it makes sense that Lyft would want to get in on the ground floor. If it can develop its own technology then it might save them money in the long run.
Lyft's biggest asset in this venture will be the scope of its ride-sharing network. The company has 700,000 drivers operating in 350 cities across the country. This kind of data will give Lyft's team plenty of information regarding traffic routes, road conditions, and other data necessary to the development and employment of self-driving cars. As of right now, not a single one of those miles has been tested with a self-driving car, but that will probably change soon.
Eric Brackett Tech Times editor Eric Brackett is a tech junkie and a gamer, covering science and technology. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter for updates and his random thoughts on the latest trends in gaming, tech, and comic books.