Lyft officially laid its stake in the ground to develop driverless fleets following its Friday announcement, but how fast it is catching up to ride-hailing competitor Uber's driverless initiative remains to be seen.
Following Uber's ex-CEO and founder Travis Kalanick's recent departure from the company and legal woes with Waymo over its alleged theft of trade secrets and sexual harassment lawsuits files by former employees, the exact status of Uber's driverless program amid its woes remains a big question mark. Officially, Uber continues to test its Ford Fusion driverless cars using technology at the heart of the Waymo lawsuit, but that does not exclude the possibility that the program is on hold.
Meanwhile, regardless of whether Uber continues to develop its driverless program or not, Lyft, at the very least, is set to offer a driverless fleet service that will replace human drivers that will at least compete against Uber if and when it launches its fleet. Lyft will also compete, of course, against Waymo, Cruise Automation, and Argo, possibly by 2021 when, according to IHS Automotive data, commercial driverless fleet services could be on offer in cities in the US, Europe, or Asia.
Lyft plans to develop "Level 5" systems at its new testing center in Palo Alto, Calif. where it says it will integrate its driverless "kits" into existing car models. It also says it will offer its driverless platform to car OEMs and technology companies, as its existing technology agreement with Waymo remains in effect.
Nissan will offer its Propilot system in the new Leaf in the US, marking the first time Nissan will offer models with driverless features in that market. Nissan said earlier this year it will offer ProPilot in the Leaf, but did not specify when and where. The Japanese carmaker will offer ProPilot in its Qashqai and X-Trail flagship SUV in Europe by end of next year, after debuting its ProPilot self-drive option for its Serena minivan in Japan last year.