Contrary to many other spheres of life, the future of transportation is known to all. It is called self-driving, and Augmented Reality looks the best suited to usher in this future. To get there ahead of competition, the transportation on-demand company , Lyft, has acquired London-based Blue Vision Labs, a startup credited for developing the most effective self-driving AR street mapping system to date.
The transportation company’s bet on the future started a year ago with the level 5 Lyft self-driving initiative. Attracting top talent, Lyft steered clear of making acquisition, relying instead on ‘build versus buy’ routine. But they couldn’t resist snapping Blue Vision labs, nor could they let it slip to competition. Acquisition has eased Lyft’s budget for $102 million, $30 of which depend on various bonuses and milestones. And at the same time, rivaling Uber, Lyft unveiled they’ll be showcasing the self-driving potential using Ford Fusion Hybrid.
What is so special about the startup to have Lyft consider the purchase? After all, Blue Vision labs has only been around since last March, having spent two years developing their product in silence. The technology they have been working on is cutting-edge street level mapping that combine well with interactive AR. It comes in form of extremely highly detailed three-space maps that serve as perfect platform for overlaying AR information onto. Just the push that Lyft self-driving initiative needs.
Luc Vincent, head of Lyft Level 5 and creator of Google Street View, said:
‘We are looking forward to focusing Blue Vision’s technology on building the best maps at scale to support out autonomous vehicles’
High-detail maps are an absolute necessity for tracking the traffic movement in real-time. Blue Vision use smartphone camera to gather and process data, thus creating the street-level imagery converting to high-detail maps. The technology is extremely precise, able to zero-in the moving objects down to centimeters, beating similar GPS platform by a mile.
‘The amount of data you have affects how much you can rely on your system’ Blue Vision CEO Peter Ondruska claims. Smartphone camera is the primary data collecting source and will be the feature in every Lyft vehicle. Cameras on, Lyft fleet will in effect serve to ‘train the cars’ become autonomous. Using cameras to map the roads in front, this technology could be a game-changer to Lyft self-driving Autonomous Vehicle development.
Another Blue Vision features will serve the endeavor just as productively. Dubbed collaborative VR, the feature lets all passengers create or interact with virtual objects. It is down to a better shared driving experience, to help passengers communicate better.
‘I don’t have a crystal ball but arguably there are quite a few players today, including big tech, startups, OEMs, and car makers’ said Vincent. No crystal ball is needed though to notice the field to develop Autonomous Vehicles is crowded. Lyft self-driving effort holds its own however, the Level 5 initiative rising to around 300 dedicated people. With so many movement, the industry consolidation is imminent, and Lyft looks on the right of it.