Lyft Will Test Its Own Self-Driving Cars at an Ex-Military Base in California
These will be Lyft's first solo self-driving car tests.
Lyft announced an ambitious self-driving car development program last year, but so far the company has relied primarily on partnerships with other firms to test autonomous vehicles. That's about to change, as self-driving cars designed in-house by Lyft, will soon hit the test track.
The first Lyft self-driving cars will be tested at GoMentum Station, a 5,000-acre facility built on the site of a decommissioned Navy base in Concord, California, according to The Verge. The facility, which has already attracted the likes of Honda, has miles of paved roads, including grid-like streets, that allow testers to replicate real-world scenarios in a controlled environment. Last November, Lyft got approval from the California Department of Motor Vehicles to test self-driving cars on public roads but the company hasn't offered details on its public-road testing plans.
While Lyft does have a 50,000-square-foot research and development center in Palo Alto, California, the ride-sharing company has relied on partners for real-world testing. It teamed up with startup NuTonomy on a pilot program in Boston last year, is working with Drive.ai on a similar pilot in San Francisco, and partnered with Aptiv (formerly known as Delphi) to give self-driving car demonstrations during CES 2018.
But Lyft will need to build its own fleet of cars in order to catch up with rival Uber. Despite the distraction of a yearlong legal battle with Waymo, Uber maintains fleets of test vehicles in California, Arizona, and Pennsylvania, and is now stepping up its self-driving truck program as well. Other companies, such as General Motors, have also discussed launching their own ride-sharing services using autonomous cars.