Lyft Inc. is making its research data on self-driving technology available to the public in a bid to accelerate the development of driverless cars, which the company sees as critical to both its future viability and the viability in general of autonomous vehicles.
The initiative includes more than 55,000 3-D frames collected from cameras, lidar and radar installed on Lyft’s research fleet. It also includes data from highly detailed maps created by Lyft’s test vehicles, which have been gathering data for nearly two years. The company is characterizing this move as the largest disclosure of such data made available to researchers and rivals alike.
“One way to help accelerate innovation in this space is to have broader collaboration not just with industry, but with academia,” Luc Vincent, executive vice president of Lyft’s autonomous driving unit, said in an interview. “We don’t care about doing everything in secrecy; we care about accelerating the whole industry.”
The human driver takes a sizable share of the fee for a given ride-hail, but the advent and applicatiom of robotic cars is estimated to be able to costs by as much as 60%, raising the prospect of lower fares and fatter profits. Lyft has partnered with Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo autonomous car unit and auto software supplier Aptiv Plc.
Lyft contends that by releasing its driverless data, it can help push the creators of the technology to come up with solutions that solve the remaining challenges. “It’s quite possible that through this data we will accelerate another player that will eventually create something great,” Vincent said. “Then hopefully we will put that on the Lyft platform.”