Lyft has formed a separate self-driving car division, the company will soon open a facility in Palo Alto, California. Reports say that “several hundred” engineers are to be employed in the division. Lyft will be cooperating with autonomous vehicle experts from other companies as well to develop self-driving systems.
So far the Lyft was dedicated to testing self driving cars developed by the companies in its ride hailing network and had not unveiled its intention to develop its own self driving cars, so this announcement marks a strategic shift by the company.
Lyft has collaborations with Waymo, Nutonomy, and automakers General Motors Co and Jaguar Land Rover. This move by Lyft will put it in direct competition with some of those partners. However, the company has said that it will not be not be manufacturing the actual cars and will focus is on designing a common software interface that automakers can use to put their cars on the road. This effort by the company can also be seen as a move to narrow down the gap with main rival Uber which is still multiple times stronger than Lyft.