Toyota Pumps Uber With $500M In Battle For Self-Driving Cars
Toyota and Uber have jointly announced that they will collaborate on commercialising autonomous ride sharing in an attempt to bring the technology to a global market. This partnership will see Toyota produce purpose built autonomous vehicles for Uber.
Separate to this deal, according to Toyota’s statement, the car maker will also invest $500 million in Uber.
The sector is heating up as tech giants like Apple are eyeing the autonomous vehicle space aggressively. Alphabet absorbed a portion of Uber through litigation earlier in the year, as well as owning their own autonomous car company, Waymo.
Executive VP, TMC, and president, Toyota Connected Company, Shigeki Tomoyama commented on the future of the sector, saying: “Combining efforts with Uber, one of the predominant global ride-sharing and automated driving R&D companies, could further advance future mobility,”
“This agreement and investment marks an important milestone in our transformation to a mobility company as we help provide a path for safe and secure expansion of mobility services like ride-sharing that includes Toyota vehicles and technologies.”
The result of the partnership will be a fleet of “Autono-MaaS” vehicles, based on Toyota’s Sienna Minivan platform.
Uber’s Autonomous Driving System will be integrated into Toyota’s Guardian automated safety support system. Toyota will also be bringing its Mobility Services Platform (MSPF) to the table, its core information infrastructure for connected vehicles.
Pilot deployments are slated to begin on the Uber ride-sharing network in 2021.
Dr Gill Pratt, Toyota Research Institute CEO and TMC Fellow explained the technological integration, saying “Uber’s automated driving system and Toyota’s Guardian system will independently monitor the vehicle environment and real-time situation, enhancing overall vehicle safety for both the automated driver and the vehicle,”
The deal represents a change in fortune for Uber’s autonomous driving unit, which was recently attacked by investors who wished the company move out of R&D and focus on turning a profit from their core ride-sharing business.
Uber has spent between $125 million to $200 million per quarter on developing the technology in the last 18 months, making up 15 to 30 per cent of the company’s losses.
An unfortunate death in Tampa, Florida due to the failure of a vehicle to change path despite detecting a human resulted indirectly to the loss of 100 jobs in Pittsburg.