Waymo And Lyft Teaming Up To Work On Self-Driving Cars

Image courtesy of Tony Webster

If Uber and Google haven’t already stopped wearing the Best Friends Forever necklaces they exchanged way back when, well, they’re definitely chucking those things in the garbage now: Google’s Waymo is partnering up with Uber’s sworn enemy, Lyft, to collaborate on autonomous vehicles.

Insiders close to the situation told The New York Times that the two have a deal to work together to make autonomous vehicles a reality for the masses through pilot projects and various product development efforts.

“Waymo holds today’s best self-driving technology, and collaborating with them will accelerate our shared vision of improving lives with the world’s best transportation,” Lyft said in a statement confirming the partnership.

Meanwhile, a Waymo spokesperson said that “Lyft’s vision and commitment to improving the way cities move will help Waymo’s self-driving technology reach more people, in more places.”

There aren’t many other details about the Waymo and Lyft agreement, as both companies declined to comment on what kinds of products they’d be working on or when those things might be revealed to the public.

It does seem likely that Waymo feels its self-driving cars are ready to go beyond testing and into the commercial market, the Times notes. Lyft also benefits from the deal, as it’s said in the past that it wasn’t planning on creating its own self-driving car technology anytime soon.

If you’re having trouble keeping track of who’s partnering with who, you’re not alone: Both Lyft and Uber have partnered with GM on car programs. And back in 2013, Google invested $258 million in Uber through its Google Ventures capital arm.

The first sign of trouble in the friendship appeared in 2015, when rumors started to circulate that Google was interested in working on its own ride-hailing service.

Fast forward to this year when, shortly after Google renamed its self-driving car project Waymo, the company sued Uber, accusing it of stealing trade secrets about self-driving cars. Last week, a judge refused Uber’s request to move that case to arbitration. If Waymo gets its way and wins an injunction to stop Uber from using its trade secrets, its former best friend would have to stop certain research until the trial is over. That could provide ample opportunity for rival Lyft and its new partner Waymo to make some serious moves.