ford and lyft
Ford and Lyft announce partnership for deployment of self-driving vehicles. Ford/Lyft

Ford announced Wednesday it will partner with Lyft to deploy autonomous cars. Lyft’s agreement with Ford adds the automaker to the ride-hailing service’s current list of car companies it’s teaming up with for self-driving technology.

The partnership will “help both companies progress toward a more affordable, dependable and accessible transportation future,” Ford said in a blog post.

The announcement comes after Ford promised last December to offer a fully autonomous vehicle for ride-sharing and ride-hailing services by 2021. The company gave a glimpse of its next generation Fusion Hybrid self-driving car at the time.

Ford said earlier this year it would invest $1 billion during the next five years in Argo AI for its self-driving technology ambitions. The automaker said the combination of its self-driving vehicle and Argo AI’s virtual driver system will make it easier for people to use the autonomous ride-hailing service.

“Think of it this way: Someday, when you open the Lyft app during a period of high demand, Ford and Lyft software will need to be capable of quickly dispatching a self-driving vehicle so that you can get to your destination as quickly and as safely as possible,” the auto company said.

Ford said Lyft’s current customer numbers, growing demand for rides and knowledge in transportation flows in cities, along with the automaker’s experience with self-driving technology and large scale manufacturing will make a good combination.

There are many other companies working on self-driving technology, and Lyft already partnered with others for an autonomous ride-hailing service, including General Motors, Ford’s rival. GM and Lyft will reportedly deploy thousands of self-driving electric cars in test-fleets by 2018. The Lyft-GM self-driving cars’ road test is set to be the largest of its kind by any carmaker before 2020.

However, Ford said it’s not about being first and is instead focused on meeting customer’s needs.

“We are placing a high priority on safety and dependability so customers will trust the experience that our self-driving technology will one day enable,” Ford said.

Lyft also announced the partnership with Ford, saying they were “thrilled” about it.

“Ford has signed an agreement to place self-driving vehicles on Lyft’s first-of-its-kind open platform, which introduces the world’s leading autonomous partners to our network of nearly one million rides per day,” Lyft said in a post. “Our teams will work together on a variety of opportunities to affect positive change through transportation and mobility.”

The news about Ford and Lyft’s partnership comes as 6 out 10 Americans say they’re optimistic about self-driving cars, according to a survey released this summer by ReportLinker. However, interest in self driving taxis or buses decreased from 42 percent last September to 33 percent this summer. The refusal mostly comes from older Americans, with 72 percent saying they are not interested in using self-driving public transportation, compared to 61 percent last year.