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Lyft Plans to Develop its Own Self-Driving Technology

Lyft has announced plans to develop a hardware and software kit that will enable self-driving cars. The ride-hailing company will open its own autonomous driving facility in Palo Alto, California.

Until now, Lyft has partnered with other companies, like Alphabet’s GOOGL Waymo and the carmaker General Motors GM, to develop autonomous driving by providing their ride-hailing network.

This move is part of what Lyft calls its “Open Platform Initiative,” a strategy to develop its own autonomous vehicle technology alongside automakers and technology companies.

“We want to bring the whole industry together with this, and we think there’s a unique opportunity in time right now for Lyft to become a leader while doing it,” said Raj Kapoor, Lyft’s chief strategy officer. “For self-driving to work as an industry, there has to be more sharing.”

“Lyft is also uniquely positioned to build technology in collaboration with partners in a way that will make it possible to roll-out self-driving cars at a scale in the fastest, safest, most efficient way,” said Luc Vincent, Lyft’s vice president of engineering.

This new move could help Lyft compete with its rival, Uber, which already has three facilities dedicated to self-driving research. Uber hit a setback, however, when it became entangled in a lawsuit battle with Waymo over their LIDAR technology. Uber has also been facing problems in the wake of scandals that led to the resignation of CEO Travis Kalanick last month.

Lyft said that it doesn’t see self-driving cars as completely erasing drivers from its business. It hopes to create a “hybrid” network in which customers can request whether they want a driver or a self-driving car.

Tesla TSLA is one tech company that Lyft could look to for its progress on hybrid programs. In 2014, Tesla introduced the driver assist program Autopilot, which uses self-driving technology in coordination with a driver. The system can be used on and off the highway with limited functions like auto-steering, lane changing, and parking.

Lyft plans to recruit new engineering and technical people for the opening of the facility in a few weeks.

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