Lyft Adding Self-Driving Waymo Vehicles For Riders In Phoenix

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Waymo plans to make a small number of its self-driving minivans to available on Lyft’s ride-hail network in Phoenix, the first public project between the tech companies since they announced plans to work together two years ago.

Initially, the Alphabet Inc. unit will supply 10 of its vehicles for the pilot project, Waymo said in a blog post on Tuesday. The company has been operating its own branded ride service, Waymo One, for about six months in Chandler and in a handful of adjacent Phoenix suburbs.

“Once Waymo vehicles are on the platform, Lyft users in the area will have the option to select a Waymo directly from the Lyft app for eligible rides,” Waymo CEO John Krafcik said in statement. Logan Green, Lyft’s CEO and cofounder, and John Zimmer, president and cofounder, “and the entire Lyft team are fantastic partners for us as we continue to scale our business.”

Waymo and Lyft initially announced plans to work together in May 2017 amid a bitter legal fight between Waymo and Uber over alleged technology theft by a former Google Self-Driving Car Project engineer. Additionally, Waymo’s parent Alphabet bought a $1 billion stake in Lyft in October 2017, the value of which has increased significantly since Lyft’s IPO in March. (Alphabet, through its Capital G investment arm, owns 5.3% of Lyft’s publicly traded shares.)

Closer cooperation between Waymo and Lyft comes after Uber announced last month that Toyota, Denso and SoftBank were investing a further $1 billion into its self-driving tech unit amid its own IPO plans. Coincidentally, Cruise, General Motors’ autonomous tech company, announced earlier on Tuesday that it had raised a further $1.15 billion from past investors SoftBank and Honda, as well as T. Rowe Price.

Lyft has previously operated self-driving pilot programs in Las Vegas with autonomous tech supplier Aptiv, using a small fleet of BMW sedans. Separately, in its first quarterly results as a public company, Lyft posted a $1.14 billion loss for the first three months of 2019, of which an $894 million chunk went to stock-based compensation and payroll expenses.

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