Lyft announced that it is expanding to Europe and has opened an office in Munich, Germany. The company has informed in its blog that team there will initially focus on SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping) and geometric mapping for its Level 5 autonomous driving effort, for now, i.e. building the layer of software that helps its self-driving cars know precisely where they are and what’s around them.
The timing of the announcement by the company is interesting as its rival Uber is facing difficulties in the European market amid a number of lawsuits and protests against it. So the company might be looking to occupy the place being vacated by the Uber.
Also, it should be noted that some of the companies that have invested in and have got partnership with Lyft, like GM, Ford, and Waymo, are also working simultaneously on their own ride-hailing programs. So the company might have entered the European market in pursuit of new partners, Munich is an interesting choice in that context as auto major BMW is headquartered there.