Ford has decided to join hands with autonomous vehicle technology startup Agro AI to launch a fleet of self-driving vehicles. According to the company, it will launch up to 1,000 autonomous vehicles on the ride-hailing network of Lyft. These self-driving vehicles will be available in selected cities by the end of this year. This will start with cities like Miami and Austin and will be expanded to other cities over the course of the next five years. Startup Argo AI is backed by Ford and Volkswagen. The move is aimed at offering more autonomous vehicles for public use.
The partnership has been announced after ride-hailing companies like Lyft and Uber decided not to work on their in-house systems. Instead, these companies started looking for partners to help in self-driving technology. Earlier in April, Lyft said that the company would sell its autonomous vehicle unit. The company said that it would sell it to Toyota for USD 550 million. Similarly, Hyundai and Amazon-backed Aurora purchased the self-driving unit of Uber in December. Aurora signed the deal with Uber amid rising costs and wide-scale issues related to safety. Commenting on the new partnership, Lyft co-founder and CEO Logan Green said that every company brings something to the table.
“Every company provides some knowledge in their area of expertise. This is very important if we want to make the business of autonomous ride-hailing a reality,” Green said. Under the agreement, Lyft will get 2.5 percent common equity of the startup. Argo AI is reportedly planning to go public by the end of this year. There are several companies that are burning the midnight oil to deploy self-driving vehicles. Volkswagen, in partnership with Argo AI, is planning to launch a self-driving microbus by the year 2025. Ford has already announced its plans to invest USD 29 billion in autonomous and electric vehicles over the next four to five years.