General Motors has signed a deal with the ride-sharing company Lyft to co-develop an on-demand network of autonomous vehicles. In the deal, Detroit-based GM has invested $500 million in San Francisco-based Lyft, making it the first automaker with a significant investment in the burgeoning ride-sharing business.
GM and Lyft plan to eventually provide customers with on-demand autonomous vehicles from fleets available in various metropolitan areas. While GM plans to offer its semi-automated SuperCruise system intended mainly for limited-access roads and highways in the 2017 Cadillac CTS for private customers, the arrangement with Lyft portends a future in which autonomous vehicles will be loaned out to customers from urban areas. The deal allows GM to test and refine autonomous vehicles in development without having to release the cars or trucks in wide-scale production.
Previously, GM has announced it will test autonomous Chevrolet Volts in 2017 at its engineering and design center in Warren, Michigan.
GM’s half-billion-dollar investment earns it a seat on Lyft’s board of directors. As the autonomous technology is being developed, GM immediately becomes the “preferred” provider of short-term use vehicles for Lyft drivers through rental hubs located in assorted cities around the U.S. Along with vehicle rentals, both Lyft users and drivers will have access to GM’s OnStar connectivity platform as well.
This marks the first time an automaker has made significant moves toward creating a network of autonomous vehicles for the express purpose of ride sharing.