Toyota dials up $500m ride in Uber

29 August, 2018, 08:59 | Author: Frank Williams
  • Toyota to invest about $500 million in Uber for driverless cars: WSJ

A person briefed on the matter says Toyota will invest $500 million in ride-hailing service Uber, and the companies will jointly develop self-driving vehicles.

Uber, which has scaled back its driverless vehicle program, could ramp up efforts as part of a reported alliance with Japanese auto giant Toyota.

The investment round values Uber at $72 billion, The Journal said. The company suspended all of its testing on public roads, however, after a self-driving Uber vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona earlier this year.

Under the terms of the deal, Uber will supply its self-driving system for use in Toyota Sienna minivans. SoftBank's Vision Fund is also an investor in GM's Cruise autonomous-car unit and Manbang Group, China's Uber-like truck-rental company. The Toyota City-based company, which initially bought a small stake in Uber in 2016, is spreading its bets far and wide for a shot at these nascent technologies, which are threatening to challenge the traditional model of making and selling cars to individuals.

Uber's app allows users to book taxi rides on their smartphones, with the company taking a cut of about a quarter from the driver's fare.

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Toyota has clarified that its Guardian technology is not a 100% autonomous vehicle technology and its research to launch a completely self-driven vehicle is going on and it has set itself a target of launching the vehicles commercially by 2020.

Carmakers and technology companies alike are working toward a future where autonomous robo-taxis will lessen the need for auto ownership.

The accident prompted the ride-hailing company to suspend road-testing of such cars in the USA and Canada.

Toyota's idea is to develop fully autonomous cars to serve an aging population and the disabled as well as work on technology for regular production cars that could switch between assisted and full autonomy.

For one, Uber purchased Volvos, retrofitted the cars with its self-driving technology and operates the fleet on its own. "I think that people will have a lot more trust in Toyota to do this the right way, to take due care and make sure everything is properly tested and evaluated". Tempe police also said the driver was distracted and streaming a TV show before the crash. But for now, the cars won't be free of human control or respond to ride-hailing calls.

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