Ford Gets a Lyft: Another Autonomous Partnership
Last week, Ford announced a partnership with Lyft to help them develop self-driving technology.
Wait a Minute
Doesn’t Ford already have an autonomous driving technology partner? Yes. Ford has been throwing around money to stay at the front of electric vehicle and self-driving technology. Earlier this year, the blue oval spent $1 billion to acquire self-driving startup, Argo A.I. That company, started by executives from Waymo and Uber, is developing a “virtual driver system.” Basically, that’s the software (and hardware) responsible for things like obstacle recognition, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, as well as engaging the accelerator, brakes, and steering. In other words, the “virtual driver system” is the brains of the self-driving equation.
It may seem crazy that Ford could spend $1 billion on a single piece of a bigger puzzle. But it’s a pretty damn big piece. And it’s also a good indicator of how much money is at stake here. Even established automakers will be forced into obsolescence if they fall behind in autonomous driving tech. So, Ford is making tons of proactive business moves. They’re even getting into the fast food game.
No, I’m just kidding. But Ford did announce a partnership with Domino’s Pizza. It already showed off an impressive (and slightly humorous) prototype pizza delivery machine. The heavily modified Ford Fusion has a full array of cameras and sensors, an external touchscreen to facilitate payments, and a rear window that lowers to allow customers to claim their pie. Ostensibly the deal allows Ford to use Domino’s massive delivery network to test “simple” autonomous driving. So, why does Ford need Lyft?
Need a Lyft?
Well, According to Ford’s Vice President of Autonomous Vehicles, Sherif Marakby, Ford needs Lyft’s “network of customers, growing demand for rides and strong knowledge of transportation flow within cities.” Teaming up with Lyft could eventually mean that Ford would provide the autonomous vehicle to replace human lift drivers. On top of all that, Lyft seems to be a well-positioned business.
Its primary competitor, Uber, is in the midst of a Shakespearean power struggle for the CEO position. At the same time, the company continues to be besieged by allegations of harassment, unethical business practices, and poor treatment of drivers. If Ford’s bet on Lyft pays off, they could end up being the main provider of vehicles to the most popular driving service on the continent.
Death of the Driver
What’s the moral of the story? Well, autonomous driving will soon be in the ascendancy. That means human drivers, who will be objectively more dangerous, will become obsolete. So, everyone needs to buy a Mustang right now and do burnouts before the government replaces us with heartless, pizza-delivering Ford Fusions.