Ford and Lyft plan Ford self-driving vehicles by 2021

By Dave Leggett | 27 September 2017

Ford sees a big revenue opportunity for MaaS - Mobility as a Service - in urban areas and has selected Lyft as a key partner for service delivery in the 2020s

Ford sees a big revenue opportunity for 'MaaS' - Mobility as a Service - in urban areas and has selected Lyft as a key partner for service delivery in the 2020s

Ford says it will work with rideshare firm Lyft to offer Ford self-drive vehicles via the rideshare firm's on-demand mobility network by 2021.

Ford and Lyft teams will begin working together to design software to allow Ford vehicles to communicate with Lyft's smartphone apps.

The collaboration was announced by Sherif Marakby, Ford's vice president for autonomous vehicles and electrification.

He said in a blog posting that the announcement marks a 'significant step toward bringing self-driving vehicles to the masses thanks to a new partnership with Lyft that will help both companies progress toward a more affordable, dependable and accessible transportation future'.

He said that ford is continuing to progress on developing self-driving technology — through its self-driving vehicle and Argo AI's virtual driver system — and is also 'building out the infrastructure and systems necessary to make it easy for people to use our service'.

Marakby points out that Lyft has a network of customers, growing demand for rides and strong knowledge of transportation flow within cities. Ford, on the other hand, has experience with autonomous vehicle technology development and large scale manufacturing. Both companies have fleet management and big data experience, he says.

Among the questions Marakby says Ford and Lyft will attempt to answer:

Marakby says Ford is focusing efforts on building a service based around actual people's needs and wants, rather than being first. "We are placing a high priority on safety and dependability so customers will trust the experience that our self-driving technology will one day enable," he writes.

100,000 units a year

Ford has said previously that it is aiming to have an autonomous vehicle (SAE level 4) in commercial operation by 2021 and wants to have 'high volume' (over 100,000 units a year) to maximise the business opportunity via ride-hailing or ride-sharing.

Ford sees a major opportunity to exploit 'transportation as a service' in urban areas during the 2020s and by 2030, Ford forecasts that autonomous vehicles (AVs) will account for 20% of all vehicle sales.