Lyft, Uber’s major U.S. rival, has introduced its first official growth into Europe with the opening of an workplace in Munich, Germany.

The transfer doesn’t sign an imminent launch of Lyft’s core ride-hailing service throughout the Atlantic, nevertheless. The firm stated that the hub’s major focus will likely be self-driving autos, with a “gifted group of latest colleagues” engaged on simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) for degree 5 autonomous vehicles — or autos with full driverless autonomy.

This workforce will “construct the layer of software program that helps our self-driving vehicles know exactly the place they’re and what’s round them,” the corporate stated in a weblog publish.

Why Munich?

Munich could seem a random location, however digging into the corporate’s latest historical past reveals why it might have chosen the southern German metropolis for its first foray into Europe.

Way again in 2016, General Motors plowed $500 million into Lyft as a part of a $1 billion funding, whereas additionally revealing plans to construct self-driving vehicles. Last summer season, Lyft introduced its personal self-driving automotive division earlier than unveiling additional plans with Ford to get autonomous autos onto roads by 2021.

So it’s clear Lyft has been ramping up its partnerships to maintain apace with rivals reminiscent of Uber within the autonomous automobile area. Earlier this month at CES, Lyft and self-driving automotive tech startup Aptiv launched a passenger pickup service in Las Vegas that entails eight BMW 5-Series autos. And BMW is headquartered in Munich, the place it introduced a brand new autonomous driving growth heart final yr.

It’s not totally clear whether or not for this reason Lyft selected Munich for its European self-driving automotive hub, however Munich definitely provides shut proximity to a significant automotive firm that’s identified to be investing closely in self-driving vehicles and which just a few weeks in the past displayed a detailed alliance with Lyft in Las Vegas. Munich can be a significant college metropolis, which might make it simpler to recruit expertise.

Lyft has now raised greater than $4 billion in funding, together with a $1 billion spherical just a few months in the past led by Alphabet’s CapitalG. And Lyft introduced its first worldwide growth in November, beginning with Toronto, Canada. Lyft additionally met with London transport officers final yr, so a broader international rollout of its core service is probably going a case of sooner reasonably than later.

For now, nevertheless, Lyft’s first official presence exterior of North America is all about constructing vehicles that may drive themselves.

This article sources data from VentureBeat