Lyft, the ride-hailing startup that is expected to launch an initial public offering (IPO) next year, has reportedly acquired Blue Vision Labs, the London-based augmented reality (AR) startup.
A media outlet reported that in addition to acquiring Blue Vision Labs, Lyft will also unveil its first self-driving test vehicle with Ford, which will be the Ford Fusion Hybrid. The two companies have been in a partnership for about a year, and the first Ford car to come from Lyft’s self-driving project is a culmination of that.
According to the report, Blue Vision will be part of Lyft’s Level 5 self-driving car unit led by Luc Vincent, and the company and its staff of 39 will become the anchor for a new R&D lab in London. Blue Vision has created technology including street-level mapping and interactive augmented reality that enables two people to see the same virtual objects.
“We are looking forward to focusing Blue Vision’s technology on building the best maps at scale to support our autonomous vehicles, and then localization to support our stacks,” Vincent said in an interview. “This is fundamental to our business. We need good maps and to understand where every passenger and vehicle is. To make our services more efficient and remove friction, we want their tech to drive improvements.”
People familiar with the deal told the media outlet that Blue Vision was sold for around $72 million. The company gets an additional $30 million if it hits certain milestones. Blue Vision has raised $17 million and just came out of stealth mode last March, noted the report. Lyft wouldn’t comment on the deal size. This marks the company’s first acquisition focused on expanding its self-driving car prowess. The unit currently has 300 employees working on the effort.
This also may not be the last acquisition in the area for the ride-hailing company. “We are always evaluating build versus buy,” Vincent said when asked about more acquisitions. But he also acknowledged that it is a very crowded field today, even when considering just the most promising companies.
“I don’t have a crystal ball, but arguably there are quite a few players today, including big tech, startups, OEMs and car makers. There are well over 100 [strong] companies in the space and there is bound to be some consolidation,” Vincent added.
Lyft earlier this year also inked an investment and partnership with Magna to integrate its self-driving car system into components it supplies to car makers.