Lyft unveils a new self-driving car and acquires UK-based AR startup to help it build maps

Oct 24, 2018 ·

Screen shot 2018 10 24 at 7.33.20 am

On Tuesday, Lyft offered a glimpse of its brand-new self-driving car. It’s a Ford Focus hybrid sedan with technology designed and built by the ride-hailing company’s in-house team of autonomous vehicle engineers. Lyft also announced the acquisition of Blue Vision Labs, a London-based augmented reality startup that uses computer vision to process street-level imagery.

The acquisition, first reported by TechCrunch, is a first for Lyft’s "Level 5" self-driving division. The company announced that it would start building its own autonomous driving technology in July 2017. It was a bold move for a company that, at the time, had been content to simply partner with more experienced automakers and tech firms that had huge head starts in designing the complex technology that powers self-driving cars. Today, Lyft has 300 engineers and technicians housed in its Level 5 headquarters in Palo Alto, California, and another office in Munich, Germany.

Blue Vision was founded in 2016 by graduates from the University of Oxford and Imperial College London, and it only came out of stealth last March. According to Tech Crunch, Blue Vision was acquired by Lyft for "around $72 million with $30 million on top of that based on hitting certain milestones." The company’s 40-person team will become an anchor for Lyft’s self-driving operations in the UK, Vincent said. (The ride-hail company currently only operates in North America, but it’s reportedly considering expanding into European markets in the near future.)

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