Lyft Goes All In on Driverless Car Tech

An Amp glows on the dashboard of a driver's car in San FranciscoMore

An Amp glows on the dashboard of a driver's car in San FranciscoMore

Lyft said the efforts will develop hardware and software systems useable for self-driving vehicles.

Lyft is taking a markedly different approach from Uber.

Lyft's self-driving headquarters will be called the Level 5 Engineering Center, named for the level of self-driving that is entirely autonomous, compared to cars that require some human attention.

Lyft had announced in June that it was partnering with nuTonomy, the technology company behind the autonomous cars. Some industry officials fear that a lack of uniform rules and expectations could hinder the development of self-driving cars by effectively preventing vehicles from crossing state lines. But on Thursday, Lyft preached a hybrid system where human drivers will take over self-driving cars for locations and situations deemed too chaotic and hard for machines. In other words, Lyft is not manufacturing its own vehicle - it's building a self-driving system and partnering with the auto industry.

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Lyft has announced plans to develop its own self-driving auto capabilities so it can begin offering autonomous rides by the end of the year in some locations.

Watch out, Uber: Lyft is opening its own self-driving division.

The company posted this to their site Thursday in conjunction with a media event in San Francisco, announcing "The open era of autonomous", stressing the partnerships and saying, "Together, we can accelerate the growth of self-driving technology and improve the safety and quality of life in our cities". "We're on our way to creating a self-driving system".

There may be no need to tip you Lyft driver in Boston later this year - because there may no be a driver. The company is considering equipping some vehicles rented to drivers through the Express Drive program with sensors to allow Lyft to collect more data for its self-driving and mapping research.

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Uber had the lead on ride-hailing and self-driving cars for a while, but it's encountered some roadblocks.

The company is promising always to use a "hybrid network" in which drivers are on hand to assist the robot vehicles - noting that this is going to remain necessary indefinitely in numerous 350 cities worldwide where Lyft operates and where detailed maps are not available.

For those not yet trusting of a robot driver (or are simply on a route inaccessible to an autonomous car) Lyft assures customers that it will continue to offer both driverless and human-piloted options for its service in the future.

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