- Lyft announced a partnership with testing facility GoMentum Station this week to test autonomous vehicles (AVs) at its 5,000-acre proving grounds in Concord, CA.
- The partnership will enable Lyft to "test our self-driving systems in a secure facility and advance our technology in an efficient way," according to a statement by Luc Vincent, VP of Engineering at the ride-hailing company.
- In July 2017, Lyft announced it had opened its own self-driving division and would house its AV efforts in a new Palo Alto-based development facility — dubbed Level 5 Engineering Center — approximately 60 miles from the GoMentum site.
This announcement places Lyft in a growing pool of automotive leaders — including Honda, Toyota and EasyMile — that are utilizing GoMentum's 20 miles of paved roads for AV testing. Just this week, Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) and GoMentum announced the test of a 12-passenger, low-speed autonomous shuttle, developed by EasyMile, that was touted as the first autonomous shuttle to be tested on public roads in California.
By becoming part of the AV testing game in California, Lyft is acting strategically in its efforts to become a leader in shared mobility. However, it has a ways to go before catching up to its main competitor, Uber. Uber has tested AVs in a number of cities, including in Pittsburgh, where it launched its "driverless car experiment" in 2016, and has since moved on to self-driving cargo trucks.
California's local leaders may also present obstacles for Lyft and other companies testing AVs. On Wednesday, San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell sent a letter to the 50 companies testing AVs in California, requesting a local safety assessment process that would help the city and public gain confidence in the autonomous technologies. While these assessments would be voluntary, these companies may feel pressure to oblige, which could throw a wrench in testing plans.
Aside from its AV efforts, 2018 has already been a promising year for Lyft as the company strengthened commitments to shared mobility, developed innovative partnerships with leading cities and even announced the launch of its own healthcare platform. Lyft has positioned itself as a fierce competitor in the shared mobility market, and is expected to maintain this position moving forward.