We already have working hoverboards, drones that never land, and technology that makes Wi-Fi look outdated. Self-driving cars aren’t far behind. Last year, Apple entered the race to create a driverless vehicle with Project Titan. On Monday morning, General Motors and Lyft staked their own claim in the future of autonomous transportation by announcing that they’ve partnered to build a fleet of self-driving cars.
The partnership between GM, America’s largest automaker, and ride-sharing app Lyft is designed to create a “network of on-demand autonomous vehicles” that would see Lyft deploying driverless cars to service customers nationwide. GM will invest $500 million into the partnership which will also earn the company a seat on the Lyft’s board of directors. In addition, GM will become the preferred provider of short-term vehicles for Lyft drivers.
“We see the future of personal mobility as connected, seamless and autonomous,” says GM President Dan Ammann. “With GM and Lyft working together, we believe we can successfully implement this vision more rapidly.” How exactly this network of autonomous vehicles will work and when it will arrive are still unknown. The plan to move into self-driving cars however, has been in the works at GM for some time.
In October, GM CEO Mary Barra stated that the company has no intention of depending on the traditional owner-driver model to further its business. Barra went on to add that GM will “absolutely” design cars for a future era where human drivers are no longer the standard.
The new partnership between GM and Lyft is one of several potential building blocks for GM’s future. The automaker is already working on a semi-autonomous feature that will enable a car to direct itself on the highway. The company plans to make the feature, known as “Super Cruise,” available in the upcoming 2017 Cadillac CT6. Prior to teaming up with Lyft, there have been rumors that GM and Google also plan to collaborate on autonomous cars.
Although GM has been working on autonomous technology for nearly a decade, joining forces with Lyft may be its most forward-thinking move in the field yet. A project like self-driving cars has the potential to shake up not only the ride-sharing business, but the auto industry all together. But that mile marker is still a ways down the road. GM will have to first sell would be non-drivers on the value and safety of “Super Cruise” before kicking autonomous vehicles into high gear.[Wired]
Photo Credit: Josh Varcacel/Wired