Lyft has the brawn via its nationwide fleet of taxis, Waymo has the brains with its self-driving technology, and together they just decided to make lots of money. The Wall Street Journal and New York Times report on a Sunday announcement from the two companies on a sparsely detailed deal to work together to develop products and tech for autonomous vehicles. It's a deal the Times says has "competitive implications" for ride-hailing company Uber, which is currently being sued by Waymo, the self-driving unit for Google parent Alphabet, over allegedly stolen trade secrets. A Gartner transportation analyst tells the Journal that the teaming up of Waymo and Lyft, which Reuters notes is the second US ride service by volume, could prove "very powerful" and that No. 1 Uber could see this as a "significant threat."
Both companies have already partnered with others in the industry—Lyft with GM, for example, to test self-driving Chevy Bolts, and Waymo installing its technology in Fiat Chrysler minivans. The Times notes these pairings highlight "fluid" relationships and "shifting" alliances for competitive advantage in the sector. The Lyft-Waymo partnership would seem to be a symbiotic one, offering a way for Lyft (which hasn't indicated it wants to create its own self-driving technology) to get into that sector, and Waymo to move from test phase to real-world application. Per the Journal, one wrench that could muck up the new partners' plans down the road: Waymo's ambitions, which could eventually push it into incorporating its technology into its own self-driving fleets. (Read more self-driving car stories.)