Ford and Argo AI to launch self-driving cars with Lyft by the end of the year

Ford will launch an autonomous vehicle fleet with Lyft and Argo AI by the end of the year, the companies announced Wednesday.

Self-driving rides with safety drivers will begin this year in Miami. The companies said they plan to expand to Austin, Texas, in 2022 and roll out about 1,000 self-driving cars in multiple markets within five years.

The partnership comes as ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft ditch their own in-house systems and instead look to outside partners for self-driving technology. Lyft announced plans in April to sell its autonomous vehicle unit to a subsidiary of Toyota for $550 million. In December, Uber sold its self-driving unit to start-up Aurora — which is backed by Hyundai and Amazon — amid safety concerns and extreme costs.

“Each company brings the scale, knowledge and capability in their area of expertise that is necessary to make autonomous ride-hailing a business reality,” said Lyft co-founder and CEO Logan Green.

As part of the agreement, Lyft will receive 2.5% common equity of Argo AI, the Ford and Volkswagen-backed autonomous vehicle start-up that’s reportedly preparing to go public as soon as this year.

The race to deploy self-driving vehicles is heating up nationwide. General Motors CEO Mary Barra said during the company’s first-quarter earnings call that she expects to offer consumers autonomous vehicles this decade. Volkswagen is planning a self-driving microbus with Argo AI by 2025, while Ford said in February it plans to invest $29 billion in autonomous and electric vehicles through 2025.

Ford and Argo AI have been testing fleets nationwide in Austin; Detroit; Miami; Palo Alto, California; Pittsburgh; and Washington, D.C.

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