No sooner had I hit publish on a story about the rapid development pace of self driving cars, then this bit of news came across my screen. General Motors has partnered with ride sharing app provider Lyft to create “an integrated network of on-demand autonomous vehicles in the U.S.”
On the surface, this is great news for The General in Canada, as much of this development will likely take place at the Oshawa engineering centre.
The partnership isn’t wholly unexpected, as Ford is reported to be in talks with Google to build the production version of the technology giant’s little egg on wheels. It was just a matter of time before we begin learning of other major partnerships. Developing new technology is arguably the easy part of the equation. Manufacturing is an entirely different beast altogether.
While they have been more quiet about their endeavors, ride sharing pioneers Uber are also working to develop their own autonomous vehicles.
The key words to all of this are “on demand”. While many consumers who don’t enjoy driving are hoping for a future with cars that look after that task for them, these partnerships all have something more widespread in common. They are all intending to create their own fleets of self driving taxis, which when you think of it, also eliminates the problems of staff and public security.
That said, automated cabs also eliminate the need for taxi drivers. While an automated taxi fleet might help a city move more smoothly, the automation of car services could have a major impact on the labour market. As an example, in Toronto, where the taxi industry versus Uber war has been vigorous of late, there are close to 5,000 taxis. In New York City, there are almost triple that number.
Somehow we all know that job security is of little importance to major corporations, who see the pot of gold at the end of the driver-less car taxi fleet.
Today’s partnership notice between General Motors and Lyft aligns two more pieces in the coming race to be the first to make autonomous vehicles available to the public.
My prediction: the next big news release will involve Uber and FCA.
General Motors press release
SAN FRANCISCO – General Motors and Lyft today announced a long-term strategic alliance to create an integrated network of on-demand autonomous vehicles in the U.S.
GM will invest $500 million in Lyft to help the company continue the rapid growth of its successful ridesharing service. In addition, GM will hold a seat on the company’s board of directors.
“We see the future of personal mobility as connected, seamless and autonomous,” said GM President Dan Ammann. “With GM and Lyft working together, we believe we can successfully implement this vision more rapidly.”
John Zimmer, president and co-founder of Lyft, said: “Working with GM, Lyft will continue to unlock new transportation experiences that bring positive change to our daily lives. Together we will build a better future by redefining traditional car ownership.”
Key elements of the GM and Lyft alliance include:
Autonomous On-Demand Network: The joint development of a network of on-demand autonomous vehicles will leverage GM’s deep knowledge of autonomous technology and Lyft’s capabilities in providing a broad choice of ride-sharing services.
Rental Hub: Beginning immediately, GM will become a preferred provider of short-term use vehicles to Lyft drivers through rental hubs in various cities in the U.S.
Connectivity: Lyft drivers and customers will have access to GM’s wide portfolio of cars and OnStar services, leveraging two decades of experience in connectivity. This will create a richer ride-sharing experience for both driver and passenger.
Joint Mobility Offerings: GM and Lyft will also provide each other’s customers with personalized mobility services and experiences through their respective channels.