Self-driving cars are a common sight in Silicon Valley but not something New Yorkers are used to. That could soon change.
Lyft announced Tuesday that it's opening a New York City office and in a hint about what it may be working on, the company said some of its engineers there will be working on its self-driving car tech. The company didn't confirm it's bringing autonomous vehicles to the city, however.
Lyft is also staffing its New York office with engineers working on infrastructure and marketplace efforts. The ride-hailing company said the diversity of New York's neighborhoods and urban layout make it an ideal place to test out its technology.
"This space makes it possible for us to draw on the incredible pool of talent in NYC to continue improving the experience passengers and drivers across the country have every day," Nancy Losey, Lyft's head of office operations, said in a statement.
Up until a few months ago, Lyft had announced only a handful of partnerships with self-driving companies, like Nutonomy, General Motors and Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Google parent company Alphabet. But in July it said it was starting to work on its own autonomous vehicle software and hardware.
As part of this endeavor, Lyft said, the company was working on opening a new Silicon Valley engineering facility dedicated to autonomous vehicle development. It's since partnered with Drive.ai, a company that makes software for autonomous vehicles, to bring self-driving cars to San Francisco -- though these cars aren't yet on city streets.
Lyft partner Cruise Automation, which is owned by General Motors, announced last month that it's planning to test self-driving cars in New York within the next year.
"Testing in New York will accelerate the timeline to deploying self-driving cars at scale," Kyle Vogt, CEO of Cruise Automation, said at the time. "New York City is one of the most densely populated places in the world and provides new opportunities to expose our software to unusual situations, which means we can improve our software at a much faster rate."
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