Magna, Lyft's Autonomous Partner, is Ditching Self-Driving Tech

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【Summary】Magna, a large automotive parts manufacturer, wants to fully switch gears into focusing on driver-assist equipment instead of tech that takes the driver completely out of the equation.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Jan 24, 2020 3:00 PM PT
Magna, Lyft's Autonomous Partner, is Ditching Self-Driving Tech

To get autonomous vehicles on the road, companies that have no experience manufacturing cars, like Lyft, Uber, and Waymo, have partnered with parts manufacturers or automakers to get whole vehicles or components that they can then build a vehicle out of. 

Partnerships like these are usually inked for numerous years, as switching partners can have a dramatic setback on the rollout of futuristic technology. Unfortunately, for Magna and Lyft, things are going down a different route.

Autonomous Tech Affect Profits

Well, not exactly. Magna and Lyft, partners working on self-driving vehicles, are going down a different path. In Magna's words, the companies "have decided to evolve how we work together." The two companies will no longer co-develop autonomous technology. With Magna investing roughly $200 million into Lyft in 2018, the company most likely won't call it quits with Lyft forever. In fact, the two companies will continue to work together to produce hardware and software components for autonomous vehicles.

Apparently, Magna's pulling back because it believes the partnership is hurting its profits, claims FreightWaves. The outlet states that Magna lost roughly $127 million in the third quarter of 2019. Lyft, on the other hand, loss $463.5 million in the same quarter.

Going forward, at least according to Engadget, Magna doesn't see a lot of potential in autonomous vehicles in the near future. Instead, the manufacturing company sees a brighter future in assisted driving. The highest the company is expected to go is up to Level 3 autonomy, which means the car will be able to drive itself in limited conditions. Apparently, there's a bigger market in that area over the next five years.

Magna Switching To Driver-Assist Tech

"It's a refocus on the assisted driving part of autonomy," Swamy Kotagiri, president of Magna told Reuters in an interview. Magna Chief Executive Don Walker told the outlet that the decision was about becoming "more realistic."

A few years ago, Magna invested $200 million into Lyft to form a partnership that involved bringing autonomous systems to market. Nearly a year into the collaboration, the two companies reported being happy about the progress they were making. 

The companies were testing self-driving cars in a 10-week pilot program where Lyft employees were being ferried from Palo Alto, California to a nearby station. Lyft saw self-driving cars as a way to complete short trips, so the program made a lot of real-world sense.

For Magna, the collaboration gave the Canadian parts manufacturer experience at building self-driving systems. The companies may continue to work together, but Magna has gained vital experience on how to develop improved driver-assist systems and future technology. 

Going forward, it will be interesting to see if Lyft seeks out another partner or if Magna makes a return to the autonomous scene.

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