Lyft announced Tuesday that it has acquired augmented reality startup Blue Vision Labs. The ridesharing company, which has its eyes set on an IPO in 2019, said the London-based startup will “become the UK hub for Lyft’s Level 5 self-driving division.”
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Blue Vision Labs was founded in 2016 and has developed precise, collaborative augmented reality software. According to TechCrunch’s previous coverage of the company, the technology “can pinpoint people and other moving objects in a space to within centimeters of their actual location.” It’s easy to see how this technology could benefit Lyft’s self-driving cars, particularly given the increased scrutiny of the safety of self-driving vehicles.
The company raised a known total of $17 million in venture funding before the acquisition, per Crunchbase, and is backed by GV, as well as Accel, Horizons Ventures, and others. Blue Vision Labs is being acquired at around $72 million with the potential for the deal to reach over $100 million, according to TechCrunch.
Lyft first announced its self-driving division in July 2017, and this is the company’s first acquisition in the space. The company’s main competitor in the ridesharing industry–Uber– has a (money burning) autonomous vehicle division of its own. Uber itself has acquired two startups in the space, including geospatial software company DeCarta in 2015, and the more controversial autonomous truck startup Otto in August 2016 (which failed).
But Uber isn’t the only company Lyft is up against. It also has to battle Google’s Waymo, GM’s Cruise Automation, Baidu’s initiative, and a host of autonomous vehicle startups including Zoox. Buying a company with software that can help its cars avoid crashing into things, particularly people, is probably a good bet.
Illustration Credit: Li Anne Dias
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