Lyft is nipping at the heels of main competitor Uber in joining the race to bring autonomous vehicles onto the road, but they're doing so with a slightly different — and they say more cost effective — strategy, through partnerships. As the Associated Press reports, Lyft announced the launch of their new Level Five engineering division on Thursday, which will consist of about 200 employees by the end of the year, all based in Palo Alto.

Unlike Uber and Google's Waymo, Lyft won't be attempting to build its own autonomous cars. As the Chronicle elaborates, they'll instead be opening up their network and sharing data with partners that include Waymo, as well as Lyft investor General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, and self-driving startup NuTonomy out of Cambridge, Massachusetts. All these companies will be free to put their cars into service picking up Lyft passengers, and Lyft is hoping to be able to encourage the sharing of information in the creation of the highly detailed city maps that are required to make the technology run smoothly.

The company posted this to their site Thursday in conjunction with a media event in San Francisco, announcing "The open era of autonomous," stressing the partnerships and saying, "Together, we can accelerate the growth of self-driving technology and improve the safety and quality of life in our cities."

Lyft's vice president of engineering Luc Vincent pointed out that partnerships, also, will make the entire process of bringing autonomous vehicles to market more cost-effective, because you're sharing "lots of off-the-shelf equipment [and] lots of building blocks of software."

Also unlike Uber, Lyft is being careful not to write drivers out of the equation. As the Chron notes, recently deposed CEO Travis Kalanick once infamously bragged that the company's self-driving vehicles would allow him to stop having to pay "the dude" in the driver's seat. But Lyft's chief strategy officer Raj Kapoor said Thursday, per the Chron, "Drivers play an important role and will continue to play an important role. Some people prefer to have a human driver; in the short run there will be instances that self-driving cars can’t handle."

The company is promising always to use a "hybrid network" in which drivers are on hand to assist the robot vehicles — noting that this is going to remain necessary indefinitely in many of the 350 cities worldwide where Lyft operates and where detailed maps are not available.

TechCrunch notes that Lyft's strategy may help it more smoothly navigate the rough regulatory waters that are facing autonomous vehicles in the years ahead. Also, they note that there could be a point down the road when self-driving "kits" can be created and given to drivers to convert their existing cars to being autonomous.

For now, slightly late to the game, Lyft will be needing to pull out all the stops to attract top talent for their Level Five project — the name, by the way, refers to the name given to the level reached in autonomous vehicle technology in which they can drive and navigate a city perfectly without help or error, and that level obviously has not been reached yet.

Related: Lyft Teams With Google's Waymo In Hopes of Driving Uber Under