WASHINGTON.- Ford announced this Wednesday that at the end of this year it will launch an autonomous taxi service in Miami together with the passenger transport company Lyft and the artificial intelligence company Argo AI, which will expand in early 2022 to the city of Austin , in Texas.
The robotaxis will circulate under the name of Lyft with Argo AI’s autonomous driving system but will have a safety driver, for emergency situations, when the first units begin to circulate in the city of Miami later this year and in Austin. in early 2022.
Ford said in a statement that this initial launch phase will be followed by a period of expansion, with the goal of about 1,000 robotaxis operating on the Lyft network in a multitude of cities over the next five years.
Ford has been running limited tests with Argo AI’s autonomous driving system for months in Austin, Miami, Detroit, Palo Alto, Pittsburgh and Washington DC
The CEO of Ford Autonomous Vehicles, the auto company’s unit dedicated to the development of driverless vehicles, Scott Griffith, said the agreement “is a crucial step towards the full commercial operation” of autonomous vehicles in urban environments.
As part of the deal, Lyft will receive 2.5% of the Argo AI shares in exchange for the information the trucking company will collect from its fleet of vehicles.
Argo AI is an artificial intelligence and autonomous driving development company, in which Ford and Volkswagen have a stake.
Lyft CEO and company co-founder Logan Green said this collaboration “marks the first time that all the pieces of the autonomous vehicle puzzle have come together in this way.”
“Each company brings the scale, knowledge and capacity in its area of expertise that is necessary to make the autonomous passenger transport business a reality,” Green added.
For his part, the CEO of Argo AI, Bryan Salesky, said that the collaboration implies executing a “shared vision to improve the safety, access and affordability of transportation in our cities.”
The deal comes at a time when Lyft and rival Uber have given up on their original plans for self-development of autonomous driving technology.
In April, Lyft announced the sale of its autonomous vehicle unit to Toyota for $ 550 million, while a few months earlier, in December, Uber did the same to startup Aurora, which is backed by Hyundai and Amazon.