Toyota invests $500 million in Uber's self-driving car program

Uber self-driving car

Toyota is investing $500,000 (about £390,000, AU$680,000) in Uber's self-driving car business, helping the ride-sharing company gain an advantage over rivals including Tesla and Audi in the race to bring autonomous vehicles to the world's streets.

The companies intend to pool their expertise and technology, and hope that Uber customers will be able to hail Toyota-branded driverless cars by 2021.

It's an ambitious goal, but in line with Toyota's plan to start testing its own autonomous cars by 2020 – complete with artificial intelligence and voice recognition that will allow vehicles to hold conversations with drivers.

Across borders

In March this year, Toyota invested $2.8 billion (about £2.2 billion, AU$3.8 billion) in a new advanced research company to build the software that will power advanced autonomous cars, and make them safe and reliable enough for consumers.

“The idea is to create a company where we are not bound by restrictions,” a Toyota spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal (subscription required). “It needs to be a globalized team, and one of the best ways to do that is to create a company separate from Toyota Motor Corp, to create a company with different rules – like a startup.”

It's therefore no surprise that the company is looking beyond its native Japan for partners, and has decided that US-based Uber – a young company with a disruptive approach to business – is a perfect fit.

Via The Verge