It seems Uber has plans to up its game in the self-driving car industry. According to the Wall Street Journal, Uber is planning to partner up with Japanese car maker Toyota to accomplish that goal.
The partnership between Uber and the Japanese auto giant Toyota, reportedly involve Toyota investing a whopping $500 million in Uber in order to accelerate the latter’s autonomous car plans. The two companies have previously been in talks about both self-driving technology and more-general opportunities. Toyota invested in Uber in 2016 alongside an auto-leasing deal. And a report in March said Uber was discussing selling self-driving tech to the company—This would certainly be a smart move on Uber’s part – the company has been at the centre of quite a bit of controversy following a fatal crash involving one of the company’s autonomous vehicles back in March.
Under the deal, the companies will incorporate self-driving technology into vehicles based on Toyota’s Sienna minivans, and the companies plan to begin piloting the program in 2021, they said. Toyota has dubbed the platform “Autonomas,” standing for “autonomous mobility as a service.”
The deal is the first of its kind for Uber, and signals our commitment to bringing world – class technologies to the Uber network,” said Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi in a statement. “Our goal is to deploy the world’s safest self – driving cars on the Uber network, and 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.”
It’s not entirely clear how Toyota stands to gain from this deal, however. Perhaps the car manufacturer is banking on Uber’s ability to reduce overhead by eliminating human drivers from their business model in the future. If Uber manages to pull that off, it could cut its costs significantly, making Toyota’s investment all the more valuable.