Ford Motor Co is to collaborate with Lyft to deploy Ford’s self-driving cars on the company’s network in large numbers by 2021, like Samsung got permit to float similar cars.
Ford and Lyft teams will begin working together to design software to allow Ford vehicles to communicate with Lyft’s smartphone apps.
Ford self-driving test vehicles will be connected to Lyft’s network, but at first, customers will not be able to use them, Sherif Marakby, Ford’s vice president for autonomous vehicles and electrification, said.
He did not say when Ford and Lyft expect to offer the first rides in self-driving cars.
“We’re not building prototypes for the sake of building prototypes,” Marakby said, adding Ford intends to ultimately put thousands of self-driving vehicles in use.
Ford’s new Chief Executive Jim Hackett is scheduled to meet with investors on Tuesday to outline the Dearborn, Mich. automaker’s strategy for boosting profitability. Ford shares are down 1.65 per cent so far this year, while Detroit rival General Motors Co’s shares have risen 15.6 per cent, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV shares are up 71 per cent.
Hackett’s plans to compete for revenue from mobility services, which include car sharing and ride-hailing, will be one area of focus for investors. The Lyft partnership fills in a piece of the puzzle.
Ford also is testing delivery services using self-driving vehicles and a van shuttle service. The self-driving vehicles Ford will deploy through Lyft will use software developed by Argo AI, a company in which Ford is investing $1 billion over the next five years.
The company has said it will invest $700 million in a factory in Flat Rock, Michigan, to make it capable of building electric and self-driving vehicles.
Lyft has said it will offer an open platform for companies to deploy self-driving vehicles on its network, and has partnerships with self driving vehicle technology startup Drive.ai and Alphabet Inc’s Waymo self driving car unit.
GM has a 9 per cent stake in Lyft, acquired for $500 million in January 2016. “Our relationship with GM has always been a non-exclusive relationship,” Raj Kapoor, Lyft’s chief strategy officer, told Reuters.
Co Ltd had earlier received a permit to test self-driving vehicles in California.
The permit marked the entry of the world’s largest smart phone maker four months after iPhone maker and arch rival Apple Inc (AAPL.O) received a permit.
Its parent company in May secured permission from South Korean authorities to test a self-driving car fitted with its own sensors and software systems.
At that time, South Korean officials said the company planned to use the car to develop a self-driving car algorithm that could drive in adverse weather.
In a statement to Reuters, Samsung did not say what precisely what it planned to test in the United States but said it secured the permit “in pursuit of a smarter, safer transportation future.”
The company, part of a massive conglomerate that makes everything from washing machines to heavy machinery, said it has “no plans to enter the car-manufacturing business.”
With the foray into the U.S. self-driving car landscape, Samsung will jostle with its friends and foes. Besides Apple, it will join Waymo, a division of Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O), which supplies the Android operating system that runs on Samsung’s phones.
Samsung has a range of other opportunities for growth in the self-driving car business. Earlier this year, the company closed its $8 billion purchase of car audio maker Harman International Industries, giving it a wide foot print in so-called connected car technologies.