Toyota, the Japanese automaker, joins hands with Uber and reportedly invests $500 million to introduce an on-demand autonomous ride-hailing service to the market. The Toyota Sienna minivans will be armed with Uber’s self-driving technology and deployed on Uber’s ride-hailing/ride-sharing network.
The deal, according to Dara Khosrowshahi – CEO of Uber, is a first of its kind deal for Uber and is sure to improve Uber’s image, particularly in the wake of a fatal self-driving vehicle accident in March. “Uber’s advanced technology and Toyota’s commitment to safety and its renowned manufacturing prowess make this partnership a natural fit,” he added.
The companies termed the forthcoming project as “Autono-Maas” which means Autonomous-Mobility as a Service. The Autono-Maas vehicles will include the Uber’s autonomous driving system and Toyota’s “guardian” automated safety support system – which operates in tandem with a human driver in full control and acting only to avoid mishaps.
“Both Uber and Toyota’s systems will independently monitor the vehicle environment and real-time situation enhancing overall vehicle safety for both automated driver and the vehicle,” said Dr. Gill Pratt, Toyota Research Institute CEO.
Toyota, at CES in January, had also promised to team up with Amazon, Mazda, Pizza Hut, and Didi – apart from Uber – to focus on the development of its e-Palette vehicles – which are self-driving modular store on wheels. However, this new AI deal with Uber is sure to spark some hope in the minds of the onlookers and other allies.