Lyft’s Autonomous Ridesharing Platform

nuTonomy is partnering with Lyft to launch self-driving cars in Boston this year.

While nuTonomy has been targeting self-driving cars in Boston for a while, this is great news for Lyft. Lyft continues to expand its platform as a provider of ridesharing infrastructure, while letting other companies figure out the actual autonomous technology.

Lyft turned its much-smaller-than-Uber size to its advantage here, by credibly committing not to develop autonomous vehicles. That presumably makes it a more attractive partner than Uber, which is developing its own self-driving technology and thus might have conflicts of interest.

I am on-record as a vocal supporter of Uber ATG, whose staff have been terrific partners for the Udacity Self-Driving Car Nanodegree Program. But it also seems likely that all of the negative news coming out of Uber this year might be causing other companies to second-guess partnerships or vendor-supplier relationships with Uber. Of course, that redounds to Lyft’s benefit.

Lyft, through a combination of using a presumed weakness to their advantage, and through avoiding unforced errors, is having a pretty great 2017.

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