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Ford, Argo AI Launching Self-Driving Lyft Cars by End of Year

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Woman hailing an autonomous Ford Escape through Lyft
Lyft will deploy self-driving Ford Escape SUVs in Miami by year’s end
Photo: Ford

Ford Motor Company and partner Argo AI announced on Wednesday a partnership with Lyft that will bring autonomous vehicles to the ride-sharing network by year’s end. The partnership is a major step toward commercializing self-driving cars for ride-hailing.

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“This collaboration marks the first time all the pieces of the autonomous vehicle puzzle have come together this way,” said Lyft co-founder and CEO Logan Green. “Each company brings the scale, knowledge, and capability in their area of expertise that is necessary to make autonomous ride-hailing a business reality.”

First vehicles to deploy in Miami; Austin to follow

Building on its self-driving vehicle services pilot partnership with the city, Ford and Argo AI will initially launch autonomous cars on the Lyft network in Miami beginning later this year. Customers in certain service areas will be able to hail a self-driving Ford Escape. The vehicles will drive themselves but will have safety drivers who can take over in emergency situations.

This will be followed by an additional deployment of self-driving vehicles in Austin, Texas, next year. Ford, Argo AI, and Lyft are finalizing an agreement that will ultimately see 1,000 autonomous vehicles join the Lyft network over the next five years.

The three companies are working together to ensure the safety and effectiveness of self-driving vehicles so that they can be used at a larger scale. With the partnership, Argo AI gains access to Lyft’s anonymized service and fleet data which will help build business cases for deployment in select markets. Lyft, in turn, takes a 2.5 percent common equity take in Argo AI.

According to Automotive News, sources familiar with the deal say that the partnership will increase Argo AI’s valuation from over $7 billion to an estimated $12.4 billion.

Ford initially announced a partnership with Lyft geared toward commercialized self-driving vehicles in 2017.

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