May 15, 2017 12:55 PM, EDT

Alphabet’s Waymo Teams Up With Lyft to Test Autonomous Cars

Race to Build Self-Driving Cars Accelerates
Stephen Kelly/Flickr

Alphabet Inc. is working with Lyft Inc. on a plan to test autonomous cars on the road, escalating a fight with Uber Technologies Inc. by partnering with its main rival in the U.S.

Waymo, an automotive business owned by Google’s parent company, is currently holding public trials on its own using Chrysler minivans equipped with its technology in Phoenix. Uber is also testing autonomous cars there and in other U.S. cities.

“Lyft’s vision and commitment to improving the way cities move will help Waymo’s self-driving technology reach more people, in more places,” Waymo wrote in an e-mailed statement.

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The arrangement with Lyft suggests Alphabet is unlikely to rekindle its relationship with Uber. Alphabet’s venture capital arm counts Uber as its largest investment, but tensions rose after Alphabet showed interest in developing a competing ride-hailing service. David Drummond, Alphabet’s chief legal officer, stepped down from Uber’s board last year.

Waymo is suing Uber, alleging the ride-hailing giant is using trade secrets stolen by a former engineer to develop self-driving technology. Uber denies the claims. Uber’s request to handle the dispute in arbitration was denied Thursday by a judge, who also asked federal prosecutors to investigate allegations against the Uber executive at the center of the case.

Lyft, the second-largest U.S. ride-hailing provider, is also working on autonomous technology with General Motors Co., which is an investor in the startup. The partnership with Waymo was reported earlier May 21 by the New York Times.

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“Waymo holds today’s best self-driving technology, and collaborating with them will accelerate our shared vision of improving lives with the world’s best transportation,” Lyft wrote in an emailed statement.

To expand testing, Waymo may need to secure more vehicles. It has about 600 Chrysler Pacificas and has held talks with Honda Motor Co. to get its autonomous technology into the Japanese automaker’s cars.