Lyft has acquired London-based Blue Vision Labs to become the company’s UK hub for its ‘Level-5’ self-driving car division.
Blue Vision Labs was co-founded in 2016 by Peter Ondruska, Lukas Platinsky, Hugo Grimmet, Andrej Pancik, and Bryan Baum – all graduates from the University of Oxford and Imperial College London.
The company is now a 40-person team featuring some of the world’s brightest minds in computer vision and robotics. Blue Vision Labs combines this expertise to create large-scale AR and robotics applications.
One thing which attracted Lyft to Blue Vision Labs is the latter’s impressive mapping technology. The company is able to crowdsource detailed 3D maps of entire cities using just car-mounted camera phones.
Detailed maps are vital for driverless cars. Lyft says Blue Vision Labs’ technology will allow their automated vehicles to understand where it is, what’s around it, and what to do next, with centimetre-level accuracy.
In a blog post earlier this month, Lyft Director of Engineering Kumar Chellapilla wrote:
“Maps are a key component to building self-driving technology.
Unlike regular web map services which are in wide use today for turn by turn navigation, the specialized needs of autonomous vehicles (AVs) require a new class of high definition (HD) maps.
These HD maps need to represent the world at an unprecedented centimetre resolution, which is one to two orders of magnitude greater than the roughly meter level resolution that web map services offer today.”
Beyond driverless cars, Lyft wants to harness Blue Vision Labs’ technology and expertise to deliver new AR experiences which make transportation simpler. The company provides an example of holding up your phone to see which approaching vehicle is your ride.
Upon meeting the Blue Vision Labs team, Lyft VP of Autonomous Technology Luc Vincent said it was clear the company understood why self-driving technology is set to be so transformative.
Speaking about his meeting, Vincent said:
“We talked about how getting self-driving cars on the road would mean far fewer accidents — saving more than 350,000 lives a decade in the U.S. alone.
We talked about how it would help millions of people avoid wasting their time in traffic, and instead dedicate hours to their families, their friends, or, well, whatever they want to be doing.
We talked about how it would help more people share rides — leading to less pollution, less traffic, and more room for community and green spaces.”
Level 5, Lyft’s self-driving division, was first created last July. The division has seen incredible growth and now consists of 300 world-class engineers and researchers – including talent acquired from Google, Apple, Microsoft, Waymo, Tesla, and more.
The acquisition of Blue Vision Labs is Lyft’s first in the driverless car space.
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