Phoenix, AZ, United States (VoA) – Google’s self-driving car spinoff, Waymo, is teaming up with Lyft in Arizona to attempt to lure passengers away from ride-hailing market leader Uber.
The alliance announced Tuesday will allow anyone with the Lyft app in the Phoenix area to summon one of the 10 self-driving Waymo cars that will join the ride-hailing service by end of September.
Waymo’s robotic vehicles will still have a human behind the wheel to take control in case something goes awry with the technology. But their use in Lyft’s service could make more people feel comfortable about riding in self-driving cars.
Self-driving to a profit
Both Lyft and Uber consider self-driving cars to be one of the keys to turning a profit, something neither company has done so far. Meanwhile, Waymo has been slowly expanding its own ride-hailing service in the Phoenix area that so far has been confined to passengers who previously participated in free tests of its self-driving technology.
“We’re committed to continuously improving our customer experience, and our partnership with Lyft will also give our teams the opportunity to collect valuable feedback,” Waymo CEO John Krafcik wrote in a blog post.
Lyft President John Zimmer described the Waymo partnership as “phenomenal” in a Tuesday conference call. Uber didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The new threat to Uber is emerging as the San Francisco company pursues an initial public offering of stock that could raise $9 billion when the deal is completed later this week. Lyft raked in more than $2 billion in its own IPO in March, only to see its stock fall nearly 20% below its offering price amid concerns about its ability to make money, a challenge magnified by another loss of $1.1 billion during the first three months of the year.
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