Waymo, Lyft Self-Driving Car News: Partnership to Advance Autonomous Vehicle Tech, Deters Uber?

WaymoGoogle's Waymo recently launched the early rider program in Phoenix, Arizona.

Waymo is already considered to be ahead of the pack in the autonomous vehicle race. Nevertheless, Google's spin-off company further intensifies the competition by teaming up with another major player in the self-driving car space — Lyft.

A source initially told The New York Times that Waymo and Lyft had signed a deal that would allow them to collaborate via pilot projects and product development in order to advance autonomous vehicle technology. This report was later on confirmed by the two companies, but neither divulged specific details regarding the partnership.

Waymo recently announced plans for its early rider program, which would allow commuters to preview the company's self-driving technology. It is believed that Waymo's collaboration with Lyft would allow the former to gain more real-world data by gaining access to the latter's network of paying customers spread across 300 U.S. cities.

"Lyft's vision and commitment to improving the way cities move will help Waymo's self-driving technology reach more people, in more places," a Waymo spokesman said.

As for Lyft, the company has expressed its desire to establish partnerships with other prominent players in the transportation industry. Apart from the deal with Waymo, Lyft also partnered up with General Motors in 2016.

"Waymo holds today's best self-driving technology, and collaborating with them will accelerate our shared vision of improving lives with the world's best transportation," a Lyft spokeswoman said.

Waymo and Lyft working together isn't seen to impinge on their respective self-driving car projects. On the other hand, the partnership of the two companies is expected to have some implications on the self-driving car project of another company — Uber.

Lyft, which is currently only second to Uber in the ride-sharing service sector, could see a significant boost in its self-driving car project as a result of aligning with the Google-backed company.

Waymo, on the other hand, has been entangled in legal proceedings with Uber over accusations that trade secrets stolen by a former employee were used by Uber in order to develop their own self-driving car technology.

Things have not been going well for Uber, and the partnership of its two rivals could serve to deter the company's own development of autonomous vehicles.