On Tuesday, Blue Vision Labs, one of three Google-backed companies working on AR Cloud platforms, announced its acquisition by ride-sharing company Lyft.
The ultimate destination for the acquisition is autonomous vehicles, with Blue Vision becoming Lyft's London office and joining the company's Level 5 division dedicated to developing self-driving technology.
Emerging from stealth in March on a the back of a $14.5 million Series A funding round led by GV (the investment arm of Google's parent company, Alphabet), Blue Vision's version of the AR Cloud consists of 3D maps capable of location-tracking accuracy measured in centimeters. The platform builds maps off data collected by smartphone-outfitted vehicles, so integration of the platform into Lyft's app could significantly expand Blue Vision's mapping fleet.
"We believe that gaining a detailed understanding of the world is the key requirement for achieving a safe and scalable self-driving platform. Specifically, this technology helps car know where they are, what is around them, and what should they do next at scale not possible with other technologies. We are very excited to be working with Lyft to contribute to their efforts in enabling the future of autonomous mobility," said Peter Ondruska, co-founder and CEO of Blue Vision Labs in a blog post.
In the near term, though, Blue Vision's platform offers augmented reality possibilities for Lyft's mobile app.
"We started Blue Vision Labs with the mission to advance the capabilities of today's robotics and AR platforms by solving some of the hardest technological challenges in the field," said Ondruska. "In March of this year, we made great progress on this goal by releasing the Blue Vision Labs AR Cloud, a technology that allows developers to create shared AR experiences that were not possible before at unprecedented scale."
One proof of concept enables riders to see their driver's approach in AR. Another potential application is AR navigation for drivers.
"Joining forces with Lyft means we can develop experiences like this at a much greater scale," said Ondruska.
The acquisition, which TechCrunch reports as potentially costing Lyft more than $100 million, gives Blue Vision Labs' investors, including Google, a successful exit and favorable outcome for their capital funding. Google's other AR Cloud investments include Ubiquity6 and Niantic Lab, though the latter's platform came after spinning off from Google.
Lyft's move presumably takes one competitor off the AR Cloud playing field, considering the Blue Vision team's alignment with the Lyft's Level 5 and the fact that selling software development tools and services are not part of the company's business model. However, Lyft's deep pockets promise to accelerate Blue Vision's platform for the benefit of its services and customers.