Lyft to acquire startup, introduces self-driving car
Lyft signed an agreement to acquire Blue Vision Labs, an augmented reality startup based in London, and plans to make it the UK hub for its Level 5 self-driving division. The acquisition is Lyft’s first in the self-driving arena, as well as its first in the UK. Lyft also revealed its first Level 5 autonomous car, a Ford Fusion Hybrid.
Blue Vision Labs employs computer vision to build large-scale robotics and augmented reality applications. The company was co-founded in 2016 by Peter Ondruska, Lukas Platinsky, Hugo Grimmet, Andrej Pancik, and Bryan Baum, graduates from the University of Oxford and Imperial College London. Their 40-person team includes leading experts in computer vision and robotics.
Blue Vision Labs can reportedly crowdsource detailed 3D maps of entire cities using just car-mounted camera phones. These maps allow a car to understand exactly where it is, what is around it, and what to do next, with centimeter-level accuracy.
Lyft expects this technology will accelerate its efforts toward developing safe and reliable autonomous transportation by combining geometric maps built using LiDAR with those built using only cameras.
The company says the technology also has applications beyond self-driving. A potential example could involve the use of Blue Vision Labs’ stack to more precisely pinpoint drivers’ and riders’ locations and create new augmented reality interfaces, such as holding up a smartphone and identifying the Lyft driver on the street.