General Motors has become the next big-name carmaker to make a substantial investment to help develop a fleet of autonomous taxis. The American car giant is investing $500 million in San Francisco-based peer-to-peer ridesharing company, Lyft, to develop a fleet of self-driving cabs with a wide and flexible range of ride-sharing options.
The last couple of years have seen a sudden surge in the field of autonomous driving technology. Many manufacturers have already begun implementing semi-autonomous crash prevention systems in their offerings. As a result, there has been a flurry of investments made by several manufacturers to aid them in the pursuit of a fully autonomous future including the German trio of Audi, BMW and Daimler who together completed the purchase of Nokia's HERE mapping system for a colossal $2.78 billion last month to help experiment with real-time road data sharing among their huge network of on-road vehicles. Combining this trend with the steep rise in ride-sharing mobile applications and taxi services, many automotive conglomerates are looking to create driver-free taxi and ridesharing services that will enable people to get around in vehicles that don't require any driver inputs.
Lyft's biggest competitor, Uber, is planning to launch its own fleet of self-driving cars in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University sometime in the future, as is internet giant Google's parent company, Alphabet. Reports have suggested that Alphabet is all set to partner with Ford Motors to help manufacture a fleet of driverless cabs-on-hire. In the wake of such developments, Lyft has managed to raise another $1 billion, half of which has come in the form of a strategic investment from GM. The idea behind the investment is that GM intends on creating an autonomous on-demand network of autonomous cars to challenge the intimidating pair of Ford and Google.
GM's substantial investment in Lyft will help the ridesharing company expedite and continue the rapid rate of expansion that it's currently enjoying in America. Additionally, the company will also hold a seat on Lyft's Board of Directors. The alliance is synergistic for both companies as it will allow both them to flex their individual technical know-how; GM with its in-depth knowledge of autonomous technology and Lyft with its capability of providing a range or ride-sharing services. The joint venture has also announced that people who don't own cars will now have the opportunity to become Lyft drivers and earn money by providing them with short-term use GM vehicles which will be available at rental hubs across America.