Ford Motor Company recently announced that it will collaborate with Lyft to deploy Ford self-driving vehicles on the ride-services company’s network in large numbers by 2021. Ford and Lyft teams will begin working together to design software to allow Ford vehicles to communicate with Lyft’s smartphone apps.
This collaboration is part of a broader strategy from Lyft towards the development of an SAE L4/5 autonomous vehicle, that involves an open platform which has already been agreed to by GM, Waymo, nuTonomy, Jaguar Land Rover and Drive.AI. The industry challenges involved in the development of SAE L4/5 autonomous vehicles are significant: the market is extremely complex and crowded, the technology is not shared and few standards exist, meaning very few players will succeed by themselves. Lyft believes that offering a trustworthy, non-competitive, partner-centric strategy can represent a valuable solution to face those challenges.
“This can work, as long as it stays within a non-competitive research collaboration.”, says Dr Alain Dunoyer, Head of Autonomous Division at SBD Automotive. “If lucrative commercial applications start to emerge, then this will become far more challenging in terms of ownership and technology sharing.”
He goes on to say, “Another problem with an open platform is the validation process: the extent to which what has been developed is going to meet the stringent automotive robustness specifications. Finally, probably one of the least answered questions is how SAE Level 4 and 5 vehicles are going to share the road with conventional traffic. This will have to be implemented in a way that doesn’t aggravate standard, non-autonomous vehicles, as they will have to co-exist for many years.”
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