Ford Motor Co. and its partner Argo AI will start a self-driving ride-hailing service with Lyft Inc. in Miami and Austin, Texas, later this year. It will be the biggest commercial rollout of robot rides.
The deal announced Wednesday brings together the three elements essential to deploy autonomous taxis -- a big automaker, an autonomous technology creator and a major ride-hailing company. The plan is to begin significantly expanding the initiative in 2023, with the ultimate goal of dispatching 1,000 self-driving vehicles in the six U.S. cities where Argo has been testing, including Washington.
As part of the deal, Lyft is getting a 2.5 percent stake in Argo, which has received a combined $3.6 billion in backing from Ford and Volkswagen Group. Lyft isn’t making a cash investment, but is providing Argo access to fleet and safety data that will provide a detailed road map to help establish a large-scale autonomous taxi service.