Tue, May 16, 2017 - Page 10 News List

Waymo, Lyft test autonomous cars

Bloomberg

Alphabet Inc is working with Lyft Inc on a plan to test autonomous cars on the road, escalating a fight with Uber Technologies Inc by partnering with its main rival in the US.

Waymo, an automotive business owned by Google’s parent company, is holding public trials on its own using Chrysler minivans equipped with its technology in Phoenix, Arizona.

Uber is also testing autonomous cars there and in other US cities.

“Lyft’s vision and commitment to improving the way cities move will help Waymo’s self-driving technology reach more people, in more places,” Waymo wrote in an e-mailed statement.

The arrangement with Lyft suggests Alphabet is unlikely to rekindle its relationship with Uber.

Alphabet’s venture capital arm counts Uber as its largest investment, but tensions rose after Alphabet showed interest in developing a competing ride-hailing service.

Alphabet chief legal officer David Drummond stepped down from Uber’s board last year.

Waymo is suing Uber, alleging the ride-hailing giant is using trade secrets stolen by a former engineer to develop self-driving technology.

Uber denies the claims. Uber’s request to handle the dispute in arbitration was denied on Thursday by a judge, who also asked federal prosecutors to investigate allegations against the Uber executive at the center of the case.

Lyft, the second-largest US ride-hailing provider, is also working on autonomous technology with General Motors Co, which is an investor in the start-up.

The partnership with Waymo was reported on Sunday by the New York Times.

“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 wrote in an e-mailed statement.

To expand testing, Waymo might need to secure more vehicles. It has about 600 Chrysler Pacificas and has held talks with Honda Motor Co to get its autonomous technology into the Japanese automaker’s cars.

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