The first network produced by the collaboration will be deployed in Miami as soon as this year, with Austin projected for 2022 and other markets within the following years. Rather than typical field tests akin to what Uber
"Argo and Ford are currently piloting, mapping and preparing for commercial operations of autonomous vehicles in more cities than any other AV collaboration, and this new agreement is a crucial step toward full commercial operations - the addition of Lyft's world-class transportation network," said CEO of Ford's Autonomous Vehicles division, Scott Griffith. "These three companies share a belief that autonomous vehicles will be a key enabler for a cleaner, safer, and more efficient urban mobility landscape. This is the beginning of an important relationship between three dynamic companies ultimately aiming to deliver a trusted, high-quality experience for riders in a multi-city large scale operation over time."
The collaboration seems to mark a turn in the approach companies such as Lyft are taking to autonomous vehicles. Where previous Lyft and Uber had been attempting their in-house research, the companies have since begun to spin off their autonomous vehicle research, likely due to the scaling costs of research and development. Lyft announced in April its plans to offload its AV unit to a Toyota
Ford, meanwhile, owns a 40% stake in fellow partner Argo, being one of two major auto manufacturers that have invested in the autonomous vehicle firm (the other being Volkswagen