Toyota is investing half a billion dollars in Uber, Reuters reported this Tuesday. The investment marks a new step in the partnership these two companies have, on building self-driving cars.
Uber already has its own autonomous driving system (although far from ideal), and it will be combined with Toyota’s Guardian technology, offering various safety features. Toyota’s system is can also be considered a rudimentary autonomous solution, as it offers features like lane-keeping. Full automation isn’t possible, though.
Uber said the combined technology will be built into Toyota’s Sienna minivans, and will be deployed on Uber in 2021.
With the new investment, Uber is valued at $72 billion, and the partnership might solve one of the company’s bigger issues – how to mass produce self-driving cars for shared fleets.
Jeff Miller, Uber’s head of business development for strategic initiatives, said the partnership “really paints the picture of how we envision deploying autonomous technology in the long term.”
The third party that will operate the Toyota autonomous fleet has not yet been chosen, Miller said.
Both Toyota and Uber are generally seen as two companies that are lagging behind the competition when it comes to the development of autonomous cars.
Uber has been developing the technology, but has removed all cars from the road in March, and laid off hundreds of test drivers, after a fatal incident in Arizona.
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