Lyft to set-up new autonomous driving technology unit
San Francisco-based taxi ordering service Lyft has announced its plan to set-up an autonomous driving technology unit in Palo Alto, California, US.
The lab will open in a few weeks and will be called Level Five. It will employ several hundred people before the end of next year.
This announcement is seen as a shift from its earlier’s strategy of teaming up with car makers and autonomous vehicle startups.
Lyft reiterated that it will continue to remain committed to its partnerships even as it develops its own autonomous technology. Its rival Uber began testing autonomous vehicle last year.
Lyft's senior director of product Taggert Matthisen was quoted by Duluthnewstribune.com as saying: "I don't think this is a zero-sum game. It is so early in this industry right now."
The company claims that its approach would be different from other firms working on autonomous technology. It does not want to produce cars, rather it would create a standarised system for use on its network, which would initially be open to its partners, reported Latimes.com.
Lyft chief strategy officer Raj Kapoor was quoted by Latimes.com as saying: “We believe this is inevitable where the world is going. We need to be playing this role.”
Every year, Uber and Lyft lose huge amounts of money as they offer discounts to passengers and bonuses to drivers.
Despite reporting a 250% surge in revenues, Lyft lost $600m, while Uber lost $3bn in 2016, reported Bloomberg.
The taxi hailing services expect to replace human drivers with self-driving vehicles to reduce these losses.