LYFT Buys AR Company to help Build Self-Driving Cars

Lyft is finally stepping into the self-driving car industry. They’ve acquired Blue Vision Labs a UK based augmented reality firm that helps cars know and understand their location. The merger will join Lyft level 5 team to contribute to its knowledge. Blue Vision will also be the homebase for a London research and development wing.

Blue Vision was found back in 2016 by Oxford and Imperial graduates, and stepped into the spotlight last march. Lyft bought them for roughly 72 millions dollars with a 30 million bonus for hitting a milestone. The company isn’t that big at all it has only a 40 person team. They use augmented reality with stuff as simple as smart phones or other cameras. With this equipment Blue Vision makes 3D maps of entire cities that they cover.

This is Lyft first big buyout in the self-driving car world. But it’s unclear if they will further explore this route of buying more companies for this purpose. In a statement said by the companies autonomous driving lead Luc Vincent

“We are always evaluating build versus buy”

He went on to say.

“Blue Vision Labs is the first company to able to build city-scale 3D maps from cell phone acquired imagery. This is truly amazing tech”

Lyft will also be looking for outside help to help kickstart this project as well. So the first car they’ll be rolling out is Ford due to their partnership. They will be introducing a Fusion Hybrid test car that will of course not have a driver at all. They have no date to when this will hit the streets but Lyft says it will come soon. Lyft will be testing the cars in public roads in CA.

As of right now this seems like the smart move for Lyft. Because of there rival company Uber is currently in hot water, if it’s not with a CEO making a bad name for themselves, or there own self-driving cars hitting people, or them just breaking laws. Those are just a few things that they’ve done that’s made a lot of people switch to Lyft, so it’ll be interesting to see how effective this will be.

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Google Buys Owlchemy Labs

Early today (May 10th) Google announced their purchase of Owlchemy Labs. For those of you who don’t know who they are, they’re the creators behind Job Simulator, and Rick and Morty:Virtual Rick-ality. They’ll be releasing a few VR games for a couple of different platforms. It’s also important to add that Google has bought a couple of other studios such as Tilt Brush, Skillman, & Hackett back in 2015. Other VR companies.

“We have a slate of original games that we have in production and prototyping phase, and we’re going to continue to do that” said by the co-found Alex Schwartz.

Schwartz then added“We’re very excited to continue to do that with the support of Google behind us”

Owlchemy is mostly known for developing games that mimic real hand movements. They try there best to give you a real immersive VR experience. And with a recent blog post it seems that they’re going to keep true to their roots.

Schwartz stated “Continuing to focus on hand interactions and high quality user experiences, like with Job Simulator.” -”Kind of our key factor”

This goes hand in hand with google current VR platform, Daydream which uses a remote that involves moment. Much like the Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive. The VR and AR(Augmented Reality) engineering director Relja Markovic has high hopes for his this purchase. Stating “ We have a pretty big vision”. Markovic then went on to say “Daydream’s a great production-I love daydream. But there will be many, many things that come after that.”

What he truly meant by that is anyone’s guess and could be interpreted any way. Even though Google is making all these big moves it has made some VR experiences for people who do not own Google headsets like Tilt Brush, and Google Earth. But with all the recent moves made by Google it seems to be that they are moving into making something bigger with their current Platform Daydream.

Schwartz and Markovic will still deal heavily the VR development community, sharing their knowledge and best practices. As well as potentially contributing to Google’s experimental Daydream Lab programs.

It’s important to note that Owlchemy didn’t start off as a VR studio at all. When they began back in 2011 they made indie games and they caught a lot of attention with their controversial game Smuggle Truck. But they decided to make VR games when Oculus released a VR kit, making Job Simulator that was available on all major VR platforms. The game did so good it passed $3million in sales at the start of 2017.