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Lyft receives permission to test self-driving cars in California

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Better late than never

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

The latest company to receive a permit to test self-driving cars on public roads in California only just revealed that it wanted to build its own automated driving software four months ago. Ride-hail service Lyft just popped up today at the bottom of the California DMV’s list of permit holders, a sign that the ride-hail service was preparing to test its first robot taxis.

What isn’t clear is whether Lyft will test autonomous vehicles using its own proprietary software and hardware suite, or the technology of one of its many self-driving partners. The ride-hail company has teamed up with companies like Ford, General Motors, Waymo, NuTonomy, Drive.ai, and Jaguar Land Rover, with the intention of being the platform on which those manufacturers deploy their self-driving cars. A spokesperson for Lyft did not immediately return a request for comment.

It could also be the case that Lyft simply doesn’t want to get left out of the party. California’s list of autonomous vehicle testing permit holders is a veritable who’s who of automakers and tech companies. It was only a matter of time before Lyft decided to throw its own name onto the pile.

The company’s decision to apply for a permit stands in stark contrast to its main rival Uber and the mess it created when it attempted to test its own self-driving cars in California without approval. The DMV revoked the licenses of Uber’s fleet of cars, forcing the company to eventually acquiesce and obtain a permit.