Lyft launches self-driving car pilot in San Francisco

The Bay Area is the new testbed for a fleet of driverless taxis.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

Lyft is partnering with Drive.ai to bring driverless taxis to the San Francisco Bay Area.

On Thursday, the ride-hailing company said the partnership with self-driving vehicle startup Drive.ai aims to "radically improve the lives of millions" through autonomous technologies.

While the announcement is light on details, the pair says Drive.ai will be using Lyft's open platform to develop self-driving car technologies.

Drive.ai, founded by former scientists from Stanford University's Artificial Intelligence Lab, will be utilizing deep-learning to create artificial intelligence software for autonomous vehicles, as well as retrofit kits to make traditional cars smarter.

In June, the startup raised $50 million in Series B funding. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company said the funds were earmarked for research and growth.

The pilot program is due to launch "soon," and will be rolled out in stages across the Bay Area.

"By launching this pilot, we're taking a giant step to advance that reality," said Sameep Tandon, CEO of Drive.ai. "As we deploy Drive.ai's safe, intelligent autonomous vehicles on the city streets, we can begin to build public understanding and trust."

"Self-driving cars have so much to offer, from safety to convenience, and we can't wait for consumers to experience this for themselves," the executive added.

See also: Google's Waymo patents soft self-driving cars to keep you safe

The news is likely to peak the interest of rival Uber, which announced plans in August to allow Uber passengers in Pittsburgh to ride self-driving Volvo XC90 cars using the Uber app.

Lyft also has some catching up to do with Google's self-driving unit Waymo, which opened up its self-driving car fleet to the public in June for feedback.

In related news, earlier this week the US House passed the Self Drive Act, which will eventually allow up to 100,000 test vehicles to be deployed every year.

While the act must still pass full legislation, this does provide hope for startups, researchers, and dedicated vendors alike that eventually their investment into autonomous vehicles will pay off in the United States.

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