Toyota invests $500m in Uber for fleet of autonomous taxi cabs, starting 2021
Toyota is to invest $500 million in Uber, as the pair seek to bring autonomous ride-sharing to the mass-market. The deal values Uber at $72 billion, despite the company making losses of $4.5 billion last year.
Technology from both companies will be integrated into purpose-built Toyota vehicles, based initially on Toyota’s Sienna Minivan platform, to be deployed on Uber’s ride-sharing network. Mass-produced versions will be made available to an as-yet unidentified third-party fleet operator as well, to offer ‘autonomous-mobility as-a-service’, or ‘autono-MaaS’.
Dara Khosrowshahi, chief executive at Uber said: “Our goal is to deploy the world’s safest self-driving cars on the Uber network. This agreement is another significant step towards making that a reality.
“Uber’s advanced technology and Toyota’s commitment to safety and its renowned manufacturing prowess make this partnership a natural fit. I look forward to seeing what our teams accomplish together.”
Toyota said the deal marked its move from a car maker to a mobility provider.
“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,” said Shigeki Tomoyama, executive vice president at Toyota Motor Corporation, and president of its ‘connected company’ division.
Specifically, the vehicles will make use of Uber’s ‘autonomous driving system’ and Toyota’s ‘Guardian’ automated safety support system. Toyota will also utilise its ‘mobility services platform’, its core information infrastructure for connected vehicles. Pilot-scale deployments will start on the Uber network in 2021, the pair said.
Gill Pratt, chief executive of Toyota’s Research Institute, commented: “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.”
Uber is perceived to have fallen behind Google’s Alphabet-owned Waymo driverless car service.It has been forced to remove test vehicles fron teh road, lay off staff and shutter operations after a self-driving Uber SUV killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, in March.
“We look forward to this partnership accelerating both companies’ development and deployment of automated driving technology,” said Pratt,
The $500 million investment is subject to regulatory approval.