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Lyft acquires AR startup Blue Vision Labs to boost its self-driving car tech

The augmented reality company's tech could let Lyft's cars see their world more clearly without expensive sensors.

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Lyft's Level 5 lab and its new acquisition Blue Light Labs are working to push forward autonomous car tech ahead of Lyft's planned IPO.

Lyft

Lyft is working to take the development of self-driving vehicles to the next level with the acquisition of an augmented reality startup called Blue Vision Labs, according to TechCrunch. Blue Vision will work closely with Lyft's Level 5 autonomous car division.

Why would Lyft, the rideshare company, acquire the London-based augmented reality firm for self-driving car tech? Mapping, mostly. Blue Vision Labs' technology allows it to use smartphone-grade cameras at street-level to build interactive augmented reality layers. In the future, this tech could be used by a self-driving car to better perceive the world around it.

Lyft's Level 5 division is also using Ford Fusion Hybrid sedans as test mules, not surprising since the not-long-for-this-world four-door seems to get used by a lot of companies in that way, though TechCrunch points out that this doesn't seem to have anything to do with the partnership that Ford and Lyft announced in 2017.

The market for self driving is getting crowded, and while the 300-person autonomous-tech team at Lyft has more resources than many, it certainly seems to be more than a little behind the pace set by companies like Waymo.

The acquisition price for the 39-employee Blue Vision is said to be $72 million, $30 million of which reportedly hinges upon meeting key performance goals.

With a massive multibillion dollar IPO on schedule for next year, Lyft could go a long way towards impressing investors if it can develop promising autonomy technology over the coming months, but will Blue Vision Labs be the key?