Lyft and Magna partner in self-driving car push
lyft and magna partner for self-driving car development

Lyft and Magna partner in self-driving car push

Ride sharing platform Lyft and automotive supplier Magna have announced a multi-year partnership.

The goal is to fund, develop, and manufacture self-driving vehicles. As well as providing hardware expertise, Magna will invest $200 million in Lyft as part of the deal.

Following in the tyre tracks of ride-sharing giant Uber, Lyft made public its autonomous car ambitions back in May 2016 after receiving a $500 million investment from GM.

In July 2017 Lyft opened Level 5, a department dedicated to developing driverless cars. Since then, the company has announced plans to test self-driving vehicles at an ex-military base in California.

The Magna partnership can be viewed as another step towards catching up with competitors that include Uber, Waymo, Ford, and several other automotive giants, which all have established technologies in the autonomous vehicle space.

Read more: Waymo turns the ignition on self-driving trucks

Lyft and Magna aim to be market-ready

The partnership will see Lyft continue its operations at its self-driving engineering centre in Palo Alto. Magna will take control of manufacturing and aid Lyft’s development team onsite.

Magna’s main expertise lies in manufacturing, vehicle systems knowledge, safety, and advanced driver assistance systems. All will help Lyft take its fleet of self-driving cars to market in the next few years, according to a joint statement from the two companies.

Lyft will provide test data along with its current fleet of vehicles to aid development. Intellectual property resulting from the agreement will be shared between the two companies.

Read more: Analysis: Why Uber and Waymo parked their self-drive dispute

Democratising access

“Together with Magna, we will accelerate the introduction of self-driving vehicles by sharing our technology with automotive OEMs worldwide,” said Lyft CEO Logan Green. “This is an entirely new approach that will democratise access to this transformative technology.”

Magna CTO Swamy Kotagiri said that collaboration is the most effective way for any company to get ahead in an emerging space filled with so many complex elements. “There is a new mobility landscape emerging and partnerships like this put us at the forefront of this change,” he said.

“Lyft’s leadership in ridesharing and Magna’s automotive expertise makes this strategic partnership ideal to effect a positive change as a new transportation ecosystem unfolds.”

Alphabet/Google subsidiary Waymo has already started tests with help from Fiat Chrysler, while Uber has deals in place with carmakers Volvo and Toyota, as well as chipmaker Nvidia.

Read more: Hyundai tests first autonomous fuel cell cars

Internet of Business says

2018 is certainly shaping up to be the year of the connected car, and the year in which driverless – and pilotless – vehicles began to make their way into the world in large numbers.

As ever, partnerships are critical to making it all work – indeed, they can help companies navigate through complex business and development challenges, just as sensors help their cars to navigate in the physical world.

But more importantly, this new deal reveals the hidden truth about ride-sharing apps, such as Lyft and Uber. In the long run, these ventures will have little to do with creating work for drivers in the gig economy. They are really about building out the infrastructure to support an autonomous, driverless future.