Based in Singapore and Boston, nuTonomy is the second Asian-based company Lyft has partnered with. Previously, Lyft has only made deals with global partners Ola and GrabTaxi, which have headquarters in India and Singapore, respectively.
The expansion of Lyft's Asian reach helps it to gain a competitive edge against Uber, which has had its share of legal troubles recently. Uber's turmoil has not helped its presence outside of the U.S., namely in China.
With nuTonomy already having driverless pilot cars on the roads and Lyft preparing to do the same through its driverless car development collaboration with Waymo, this partnership could help to bring them both to the next level of driverless development. The deal, which involves no financial exchange, is to start with autonomous car tests in Boston and Singapore where the companies will study human interactions and responses to self-driven vehicles.
When describing the research and development its hope to conduct during a conference call with reporters, Lyft CEO and co-founder Logan Green said:
The first stage of the partnership is focused on research and development on passenger experience. The next stages could lead to thousands of nuTonomy cars on the Lyft platform."
The race right now is to develop driverless cars so that they will be able to be integrated into the mainstream. However, what needs to be considered to create any sort of market for self-driven vehicles is how consumers are going to feel about being transported without a human being driving. This is what nuTonomy and Lyft hope to discover by following the journey of passengers as they take autonomous transport; from hailing, to the in-car experience, to leaving the vehicle. This research will be conducted with Renault Zoe EVs, cars that nuTonomy had been road-testing in Boston since November. They will combine these cars with Lyft software, including a new extension of the Lyft app available in the cars for passenger use.
The results of the research could help both companies to gain a competitive edged in the development of autonomous vehicles. It will hopefully be incredibly helpful in gathering data for Lyft to later implement into their software, as they are currently lacking research for how their app is to work with hailing a human driver versus hailing a self-driven car. It also will give Lyft a leg up in international reach as well as help both companies develop technology to make sure their passengers are as comfortable as possible.
Lyft's strategy is smart and clear. Rather than spending resources on attempting to develop their own self-driven vehicles, their partnerships help to make sure that they not only have autonomous cars, but also provide certainty that they are the most efficient and user-friendly as this type of transportation moves to the mainstream.
With so many competitors, like Uber, racing to get their autonomous cars done and out there, it is clear that multiple companies have partnered with Lyft because their company seems to actually have a plan for marketing this kind of transportation, which is just as important. NuTonomy CEO and co-founder, Karl Iagnemma, seemed to agree.
My job is to make sure nuTonomy will be part of the winning team. That's what Lyft is for us when we look at North America."
And with Lyft's clear dedication to providing the best autonomous transportation services through its three partnerships, research, and international expansion, it's not hard to see why.