Lyft has added Drive.ai, a startup born out of Stanford’s artificial intelligence lab, to its growing list of self-driving-car partners.
The two companies will use the partnership to launch a pilot in the Bay Area, though Lyft declined to say when exactly the trial will occur.
Drive.ai is the latest tech venture to partner with Lyft, which is also collaborating with Waymo, the company born out of Google’s autonomous division, and nuTonomy, an MIT spinoff that has also partnered with Grab in Singapore.
Lyft has said it will launch a pilot program with nuTonomy in Boston before the end of the year.
Passengers who participate in the trial will get a ride free of charge, Taggart Matthiesen, Lyft’s director of product, said in an interview. Users will be selected only if they choose a route that Lyft has recently mapped to ensure the cars can stay on course.
Lyft also boasts partnerships with Jaguar Land Rover and General Motors. GM invested $US500 million in Lyft in 2016.
The move will further position Lyft against Uber, which has launched autonomous-car pilots in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Phoenix. Uber is currently being sued by Waymo, which claims the ride-hailing titan stole intellectual property and trade secrets.
While Uber has hired engineers to advance its self-driving-car efforts, Lyft has opted to partner with existing companies to build out its team. Lyft is pursuing an “open platform” model that will allow any partner to dispatch their self-driving cars on the app.
Lyft in July opened a new autonomous car center in Palo Alto to make room for its partners, vehicle bays, and labs.
Lyft in April raised $US500 million, valuing it at an estimated $US7.5 billion. Drive.ai recently completed a Series B funding round that brought its total funding to $US62 million.
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