That massive deal between Uber and Toyota is going to extend to the carmaker’s U.S. headquarters in North Texas.
Toyota (NYSE: TM) is investing $500 million in Uber, and the two companies are expanding their collaboration, aiming to advance and push autonomous ride-sharing to the market, they said this week. Efforts around automated and connected vehicles at Toyota's Plano’s operations, which include Toyota Connected, will take on some of the agreement.
Toyota officially moved into its North American headquarters in Plano last year.
“Toyota Connected in Plano will have considerable activity and influence in this collaboration with Uber,” Brian Lyons, a Toyota spokesman, said in an emailed statement. Show Full Story
With the agreement, the unit will access the data collected as part of the Autono-MaaS (autonomous-mobility as a service) vehicle testing in Uber’s ride-sharing network, Lyons added. Also, it will test and verify the effectiveness of Toyota’s proprietary Mobility Services Platform – the company’s core ecosystem that serves as a form of information infrastructure for connected vehicles, leveraging data collected and stored in the Toyota Big Data Center.
“This agreement and investment marks an important milestone in our transformation to a mobility company as we help provide a path for safe and secure expansion of mobility services like ride-sharing that includes Toyota vehicles and technologies,” said Shigeki Tomoyama, executive vice president of Toyota Motor Corp. and president of Toyota Connected Co., in the statement.
This could all be a key step in the future of driverless cars, though it won’t happen tomorrow. The initial “Autono-MaaS” fleet will be based on Toyota’s Sienna Minivan platform, and pilot-scale deployments will begin on the Uber ride-sharing network in 2021.
The move comes after Uber had retreated from self-driving cars following a fatal crash in March that involved a test vehicle hitting a pedestrian who was crossing a road at night in Tempe, Arizona. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who joined the company a year ago, shut down the Phoenix car testing center, laying off hundreds of employees.
“Uber’s advanced technology and Toyota’s commitment to safety and its renowned manufacturing prowess make this partnership a natural fit,” Khosrowshahi said in the statement this week.
Uber and Toyota anticipate that the mass-produced autonomous vehicles will be owned and operated by mutually agreed upon third-party autonomous fleet operators.