Waymo’s self-driving minivan in Detroit at the North American International Auto Show in January. (Brett Carlsen for The New York Times)

As the race to bring self-driving vehicles to the public intensifies, two of Silicon Valley’s most prominent players are teaming up.

Waymo, the self-driving car unit that operates under Google’s parent company, has signed a deal with the ride-hailing start-up Lyft, according to two people familiar with the agreement who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. The deal calls for the companies to work together to bring autonomous vehicle technology into the mainstream through pilot projects and product development efforts, these people said.

The deal was confirmed by Lyft and Waymo.

“Waymo holds today’s best self-driving technology, and collaborating with them will accelerate our shared vision of improving lives with the world’s best transportation,” a Lyft spokeswoman said in a statement.

A Waymo spokesman said, “Lyft’s vision and commitment to improving the way cities move will help Waymo’s self-driving technology reach more people, in more places.”

The partnership highlights the fluid nature of relationships in the self-driving-car sector. From technology companies to automakers to firms that manufacture components, dozens of players are angling for a slice of an autonomous vehicle market that many believe will ultimately be a multibillion-dollar industry. To gain an edge and outmuscle rivals, many of these players are forming alliances — and sometimes shifting them.

The deal between Waymo and Lyft has competitive implications for Uber, the world’s biggest ride-hailing company, which has recently had to confront a spate of workplace and legal problems.

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SOURCE: NY Times, Mike Isaac

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