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Alphabet’s self-driving unit Waymo is teaming up with Lyft

Well, this is an interesting development.

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Lyft co-founders, President John Zimmer and CEO Logan Green
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Waymo, the self-driving unit of Google parent company Alphabet, is teaming up with Lyft to work on bringing autonomous vehicle efforts to market, the New York Times reports.

Details on what this partnership entails remain a little fuzzy, but sources told Times reporter Mike Isaac the two companies would be working together on pilot projects and product development efforts. That’s another way of saying Lyft users in some markets will likely be able to hail a Waymo self-driving car in a limited test sometime down the road.

“We’re looking forward to working with Lyft to explore new self-driving products that will make our roads safer and transportation more accessible. 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 said in a statement to Recode.

“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 told the Times in a statement.

This is not Lyft’s only partnership aimed at bringing self-driving technology into the mainstream. Lyft has a partnership with GM, which last year acquired self-driving startup Cruise. In that light, Lyft’s statement reads as a bit of a snub to Cruise.

While GM also invested in Lyft, the relationship between the two companies is not exclusive. It’s unlikely Waymo’s partnership with Lyft will also result in a meaningful collaboration with GM since the automaker is building its autonomous stack in house after paying a hefty price to obtain the exclusive rights to Cruise’s technology.

Cruise, for its part, is also testing its autonomous cars in California and has its own proprietary ride-hail app that the company’s staffers have been experimenting with — a service a spokesperson previously said would not interfere with Lyft’s expected role in GM’s proliferation of driverless cars.

Alphabet was also experimenting with its own ride-hailing app — which the company has been using in its first pilot program in Arizona. But it’s not likely the company would solely depend on either that app or the ride-matching service of Alphabet subsidiary Waze in order to give consumers access to self-driving cars. That’s largely due to the difficulty of gaining market share in the already crowded ride-hail industry — an issue Lyft, the perennial runner-up to Uber, knows all too well.

Discussions that led to the new partnership reportedly began last summer, according to the Times.

The relationship between Uber and Alphabet has gone from tense to combative in the past year. It was long-rumored that the two players would work together on a network of autonomous cars, but Uber decided to navigate that road on its own, making a competitor of Alphabet as both companies vyed for automaker partnerships.

Today, Alphabet’s self-driving company has been working with a limited number of Lexus vehicles and Chrysler minivans. But the company recently announced it was expanding its partnership with Fiat Chrysler, adding 500 more of its minivans to its fleet across the U.S.

This is just the latest in a series of blows to Uber’s and Waymo’s once potentially fruitful relationship.

In January, Waymo CEO John Krafcik tweeted his praise for Lyft’s service, @-ing the ride-hailing startup’s co-founders.

That tweet came just a month before Waymo dropped a beast of a lawsuit on Lyft’s competitor Uber, alleging the ride-hailing behemoth had misappropriated Waymo’s self-driving technology.

Months before the lawsuit dropped, Google Ventures executive David Drummond stepped down from Uber’s board after the company’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, reportedly left him out of meetings for fear of unwittingly informing the competition of its plans.


This article originally appeared on Recode.net.