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The robots are driving: Argo AI gears up to bring driverless rideshares to Austin

Next year, autonomous vehicles will be offered via Lyft. (Argo AI)

Hate having awkward conversations with your Lyft driver? Soon you won't have to, as self-driving rideshare vehicles are on their way to Austin's streets.

Pittsburgh-based autonomous vehicle company Argo AI LLC is putting robots on the roads by partnering with rideshare company Lyft and Ford Motor Co. to launch robotaxis in two cities in the next year: Austin and Miami.

Passenger rides will start in 2022, with Lyft network safety drivers onboard for the time being. Once the partnership deploys the Ford vehicles, Lyft users will be able to select "self-driving" in the app.

Argo originally announced plans to hit the streets of Austin back in 2019, complete with a command center nearby the airport and 3D mapping of popular areas, but testing the cars was delayed.

The company says it plans to have as many as 1,000 driverless vehicles across multiple markets in the next five years.

"This collaboration marks the first time all the pieces of the autonomous vehicle puzzle have come together this way," Co-founder and CEO of Lyft Logan Green said in a press release. "Each company brings the scale, knowledge and capability in their area of expertise that is necessary to make autonomous ride-hailing a business reality."

According to a press release, Argo AI will use anonymized service and fleet data from Lyft to overcome the challenges faced by other autonomous vehicle companies by focusing on where they can build a sustainable business and validate deployment through localized safety data. Lyft will receive 2.5% common equity of Argo AI as part of the partnership.

This is not the first AI-driven company to come to Austin—back in 2015, Waymo, an Alphabet Inc. subsidiary, made the first robotaxi in Austin a reality before pulling out in 2019.


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