Woven Planet Buys Lyft's Self-Driving Car Unit for $550 Million
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Flying cars and self-driving cars are almost always imagined in our vision for the future. There are many automakers trying to make autonomous vehicles (AVs) safe to use. Once they are, they can help reduce or eliminate human error from driving, and maybe even make car insurance cheaper.
Making that happen, though, is going to take a lot of testing. Lyft, a rideshare company, has decided to leave it to the experts. They have sold the progress they’ve made in developing autonomous cars to Woven Planet; a company that focuses on exactly these types of driving technology.
What is Woven Planet purchasing from Lyft?
According to the Business Wire, Woven Planet is dedicated to accelerating the adoption and safety of AVs. Woven Planet is acquiring the team of over 300 Lyft engineers and data scientists, called Level 5, that was working on autonomous driving.
Woven Planet has also signed commercial agreements with Lyft to use their Lyft system and fleet data. As mentioned on Lyft’s website, this includes prediction models, mapping, and sensor data. Lyft will receive $550 million overall for the transaction.
You may not have heard of Woven Planet, but they are owned by Toyota—one of the biggest automakers in the world. Woven Planet works with a team of researchers at Toyota Research Institute for software development, advanced safety technology, and autonomous driving.
Self-driving cars and Lyft
Lyft has been hoping for years to use a self-driving fleet to help increase revenue. Now partnered with Woven Planet, they’ve created the Lyft Autonomous team to bring AV technology to the market.
Lyft Autonomous was formerly Open Platform, a team that Lyft put together in 2016 to work on implementing and scaling self-driving technology. The Level 5 team was a division that focused specifically on AV technology for cars.
They expect to save $100 million of annualized non-GAAP operating expenses on research and development. John Zimmer, Lyft Co-Founder and President, said "Not only will this transaction allow Lyft to focus on advancing our leading Autonomous platform and transportation network, this partnership will help pull in our profitability timeline."
Are we getting self-driving cars soon?
Lyft was not alone in wanting to replace drivers with autonomous cars. Uber was trying to achieve this too, but they recently reported selling their self-driving unit to a start-up called Aurora.
However, automakers are also working on self-driving cars. As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) points out, automated driving systems bring many safety benefits. Many cars already come with technology to help you stay in your lane, and prevent you from bumping into a car that’s suddenly stopped.
Self-parking cars have already been tested, and other partially automated safety features such as adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist technology are in the works. The NHTSA expects us to have fully automated safety features and highway autopilot after 2025.
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