Google spinoff Waymo and Lyft in pact to knock out arch-competitor Uber

In the role of Batman we have Google spin-off Waymo, because self-driving cars are almost as cool as the Batmobile.

In the role of Robin, we have Lyft, because it’s a kinder, gentler version of its famously misbehaving chief rival.

And speaking of that rival, in the role of Joker we have Uber. Because, well, Uber.

Now Waymo and Lyft are teaming up, just like Batman and Robin, to beat the stuffing out of Uber. The two firms have announced a partnership.

“The deal calls for the companies to work together to bring autonomous vehicle technology into the mainstream through pilot projects and product development efforts,” according to the New York Times. Waymo and Lyft confirmed the relationship to the Times.

It’s fairly easy to see why Waymo and Lyft would get together like this. Both are under threat from an Uber that is relentlessly and ruthlessly positioning itself to dominate a future ride-sharing market in which the cars drive themselves.

Waymo has grand plans to see its autonomous vehicle technology widely used for personal transportation, deliveries and, of course, ride-sharing.

Lyft would like to drive up its share of the ride-hailing market that it and Uber have mostly locked up, with Lyft having about 20 percent and Uber 80 percent.

Uber is working on an autonomous-vehicle project and appears to want to bring its own system to market.

Of this fight with Uber for market share, Lyft co-founder John Zimmer in November told USA Today, “we’ll ultimately win.”

In Waymo, Lyft has latched onto the leading firm in self-driving technology — Google was first out of the gate in this area, and appears far ahead (paywall) of any other company in the race to produce systems ready for the market.

“Waymo holds today’s best self-driving technology, and collaborating with them will accelerate our shared vision of improving lives with the world’s best transportation,” a Lyft spokeswoman said in a statement to the Times.

Waymo had similarly nice words for its new partner. “Lyft’s vision and commitment to improving the way cities move will help Waymo’s self-driving technology reach more people, in more places,” the company told the Times.

For Uber, getting ganged-up on by two rivals in autonomous driving comes at a bad time: one of those rivals, Waymo, is suing it, alleging a former Google executive stole some of Google’s self-driving car technology and took it to Uber where it has been used to develop Uber’s autonomous-driving systems. Uber has denied the claims.

Wham! Oof! Pow! The fight goes on.

 

Photo: A self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivan from Google spin-off Waymo (courtesy of Waymo)

 

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