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Ford and Argo AI to launch self-driving cars with Lyft by end of year

An Argo-modified Ford autonomous vehicle parked in Manhattan on Friday, July 12, 2019.Paul Eisenstein | CNBCFord will launch an autonomous vehicle fleet with Lyft and Argo AI by the end of the year, the companies announced Wednesday.Self-driving rides with safety drivers will begin this year in Miami. The companies said they plan to expand to Austin, Texas, in 2022 and roll out about 1,000 self-driving cars in multiple markets within five years.The partnership comes as ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft ditch their own in-house systems and instead look to outside partners for self-driving technology. Lyft announced plans in April to sell its autonomous vehicle unit to a subsidiary of Toyota for $550 million. In December, Uber sold its self-driving unit to start-up Aurora — which is backed by Hyundai and Amazon — amid safety concerns and extreme costs.”Each company brings the scale, knowledge and capability in their area of expertise that is necessary to make autonomous ride-hailing a business reality,” said Lyft co-founder and CEO Logan Green.As part of the agreement, Lyft will receive 2.5% common equity of Argo AI, the Ford and Volkswagen-backed autonomous vehicle start-up that’s reportedly preparing to go public as soon as this year.The race to deploy self-driving vehicles is heating up nationwide. General Motors CEO Mary Barra said during the company’s first-quarter earnings call that she expects to offer consumers autonomous vehicles this decade. Volkswagen is planning a self-driving microbus with Argo AI by 2025, while Ford said in February it plans to invest $29 billion in autonomous and electric vehicles through 2025.Ford and Argo AI have been testing fleets nationwide in Austin; Detroit; Miami; Palo Alto, California; Pittsburgh; and Washington, D.C.

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