SAN FRANCISCO — dominant the longer term of the smartphone was the shaping technology battle of the last decade. Now, technology firms area unit indulgent that future ten years and on the far side are going to be spent battling for a management of the self-driving automobile.
On Friday, Lyft, the ride-hailing company, proclaimed that it absolutely was developing its own self-driving technology, marking yet one more company’s gamble that the longer term of transportation is going to be marked by self-driving cars.
Lyft is marking the occasion with the gap of a brand new self-driving-research facility in town, Calif., and plans to heavily recruit new engineering and technical individuals for the ability when it opens within the coming back weeks.
“We aren’t thinking of our self-driving division as an aspect project. It’s core to our business,” same Luc Vincent, vice chairman of autonomous technology at Lyft. “That’s why ten % of our engineer’s area unit already centered on developing self-driving technology — and we’ll still grow that team within the months ahead.”
Uber, Lyft’s a lot of larger rival, has spent millions of gap facilities in an urban center, Toronto and point of entry dedicated entirely to autonomous-vehicle analysis, whereas building its own hardware and code systems to work the vehicles. and lots of different firms, from Alphabet’s Waymo unit in the geographical area to major car makers in Motown and Europe, also are acting on autonomous-driving technology.
Lyft is taking a markedly totally different approach from Uber. whereas Uber’s self-driving plans have largely been a solo effort, Lyft has proclaimed what it calls its Open Platform Initiative, the way to develop autonomous vehicle technology in conjunction with automakers and technology firms.
“We wish to bring the complete trade in conjunction with this, and that we assume there’s a novel change in time without delay for Lyft to become a pacesetter whereas doing it,” same dominion Kapoor, Lyft’s chief strategy officer, in an exceedingly press event at the company’s point of entry headquarters.
Perhaps the simplest thanks to perceiving the initiative are thru the lens of the smartphone.
Uber’s approach is nearer to it of Apple: each firm wishes to manage most of the merchandise, whether or not the code or the hardware.
Lyft, in distinction, is acting somewhat additional like Google in its development of the robot software. each firms area unit making code that several totally different hardware makers will use, whereas developing the technology collaboratively with hardware partners. In Lyft’s ideal world, that might mean a faster unfold of Lyft’s technology among automakers.
Automakers area unit scrambling to develop their own self-driving technology as they imagine however they may operate in an exceedingly future during which fewer individuals own cars. Collaborating with Lyft might facilitate bring that technology to promote quicker, whereas automakers might give Lyft’s ride-hailing network with additional cars to serve riders.
Lyft is seeing early signs of traction. Early partners embrace Waymo, nuTonomy, Jaguar, Land Rover and General Motors. the general public details of the partnerships area unit scant, however, all of the businesses have committed to operating along to form self-driving cars commonplace.
There area unit potential drawbacks. Partners might plan to leave the Open Platform Initiative and develop their own code. Or firms can be cautious of teaming up with Lyft as a result of it’s developing its own self-driving system.
Lyft executives believe that the self-driving-car race is in its time period, which firms which will think about each other rivals still have a lot of to achieve from collaborating and learning whereas building the auto fleets of the longer term.
“Lyft isn’t moving into the business of producing an automobile,” Mr. Kapoor same. “We’re on our thanks to making a self-driving system. Then the car trade will bring it to life.”
A version of this article appears in print on July 22, 2017, on Page B6 of the New York edition with the headline: Lyft Sets ‘Open Platform’ Approach to Self-Driving Cars.