Pittsburgh’s self-driving startup Argo AI is partnering with Ford Motor Co. and ride-hail company Lyft to offer robotaxi service in Miami by the end of the year and in Austin in 2022.
Initially, the Ford Escape hybrids will have a safety driver and Lyft users will be able to choose whether they want a self-driving vehicle.
Argo AI will gather data from the rides to improve its service. In exchange, Lyft will receive a 2.5% stake in the company. Ford will fuel, service and clean the robotaxi fleets under the partnership.
“This collaboration marks the first time all the pieces of the autonomous vehicle puzzle have come together this way,“ Lyft Co-founder and CEO Logan Green said in a statement.
“Beyond the link that Lyft provides to the customer, we’ll be able to work together to define where an autonomous service will benefit communities the most and ensure we’re deploying the technology safely,” said Bryan Salesky, founder and CEO of Argo AI.
The news comes on the heels of a recent story in the Los Angeles Times (republished by Yahoo! Finance) that highlighted the lessons Argo AI has learned on the streets of Pittsburgh.
“Take Pittsburgh, which is known for the ‘Pittsburgh Left,’” noted Salesky. “That’s a maneuver wherein the driver of the first car in line at a stoplight signals to turn left. When the light turns green, the driver veers left immediately — making the turn before oncoming traffic goes straight. It’s technically illegal but widespread. A robot car must be aware of such local idiosyncrasies to harmonize with other traffic. If robot cars don’t demonstrate reasonably ‘naturalistic’ driving skills, they’ll make people mad.”
The global driverless vehicle market could be worth $60 billion or more by 2030.