You'll be able to hail a self-driving vehicle, but it will have a driver just in case.
Autonomous cars always seem to be just around the corner. But whether it's Tesla again publicizing its full-self driving software, Cadillac's Super Cruise, the Ford Mustang Mach-E BlueCruise or any other of these current systems, they all require a driver to have their hands on the wheels and eyes on the road. Now Ford, Argo AI and Lyft say they are working together to commercialize autonomous ride hailing at scale.
The group will deploy self-driving ride shares (with safety drivers) on the Lyft network beginning in Miami later this year and Austin starting in 2022. The Lyfts will work only in defined service areas and will obviously be something from Ford's lineup.
"This collaboration marks the first time all the pieces of the autonomous vehicle puzzle have come together this way," Lyft co-founder and CEO Logan Green said. "Each company brings the scale, knowledge and capability in their area of expertise that is necessary to make autonomous ride-hailing a business reality."
Ford says this trial will help upscale operations and plans to have at least 1,000 autonomous vehicles on the Lyft network in multiple markets over the next five years. It will "define where self-driving technology can safely serve its customers." Argo will use the data collected from Lyft's fleet service to figure out where it can build a sustainable business. Lyft will get a small stake in Argo (2.5%) too.
The Blue Oval is also establishing bigger operations in those two cities, as well as Washington DC, to support these fleets, including fueling, servicing and cleaning. The company is creating relationships with those communities and community leaders to meet the needs of each city.
As far as other companies eyeing autonomous driving, Google-owned Waymo is another leader. It and its heavily modified Chrysler Pacfica minivans are running around in Arizona and a few other places. Waymo just released a study noting that with over 6 million miles driven it has only been in minor crashes.
If you live in Miami keep an eye out for Ford-based Lyft vehicles. They will have drivers, but they'll also have a load of sensors on the roof and elsewhere, so you'll be able to spot them from a mile away. You'll also be able to select or deny a self-driver from the Lyft app.