July 23, 2017

Lyft, Waymo partnership could push Google self-driving tech to commercialization

Fun times in a Lyft car
Image Courtesy of Lyft

Lyft now has ride-hailing partnerships with Waymo and GM. Waymo LLC’s partnership with Lyft Inc. on self-driving cars is moving it one step closer to commercialization.

The partnership pushes Waymo’s self-driving technology, which experts say is among the best in the field, to a reality. On Lyft’s end, the partnership may bolster its position in the battle against rival Uber Technologies Inc., which is involved in a legal battle with Waymo.

Technology companies, car makers and ride-hailing companies have been increasingly partnering up in the race to create self-driving cars. Sometimes these partnerships can be seen a weakness, said Tasha Keeney, an industrial innovation analyst at ARK Investment Management, as it may show the program isn’t far along.

But in Waymo’s case, Keeney said the company, which is under the Alphabet GOOG, +0.52% GOOGL, +0.43% umbrella, has the “best technology” as evidenced by the California DMV’s disengagement reports, which track the number of miles a self-driving car can go without needing human intervention. Waymo was averaging about 5,000 miles between interventions, while the next closest, GM’s GM, +0.59% Cruise Automation, which is also partnered with Lyft, is in the hundreds of miles.

The only problem with Waymo’s technology had been how to commercialize […]

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