Controlling the future of the smartphone was the defining technology battle of the last decade. Now, technology companies are betting that the next 10 years and beyond will be spent battling for control of the self-driving automobile.
On Friday, Lyft, the ride-hailing company, announced that it was developing its own self-driving technology, marking yet another company’s gamble that the future of transportation will be marked by self-driving cars.
Lyft is marking the occasion with the opening of a new self-driving-research facility in Palo Alto, Calif., and plans to heavily recruit new engineering and technical people for the facility after it opens in the coming weeks.
“We aren’t thinking of our self-driving division as a side project. It’s core to our business,” said Luc Vincent, vice president of autonomous technology at Lyft. “That’s why 10 percent of our engineers are already focused on developing self-driving technology — and we’ll continue to grow that team in the months ahead.”
Uber, Lyft’s much larger rival, has spent millions opening facilities in Pittsburgh, Toronto and San Francisco dedicated entirely to autonomous-vehicle research, while building its own hardware and software systems to operate the vehicles. And many other companies, from Alphabet’s Waymo unit in Silicon Valley to major auto manufacturers in Detroit and Europe, are also working on autonomous-driving technology.
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