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Image: Toyota

Toyota Motor Corporation and Uber Technologies are expanding their partnership, with Uber to deploy purpose-built Toyota vehicles on its fleet. Toyota is also investing $500 million in the ride-hailing firm, subject to regulatory approval.

The collaboration aims to advance, commercialize and scale up technologies for autonomous ride-sharing. An initial pilot ‘Autono-Maas’ (autonomous Mobility as a Service) fleet is planned for 2021: this will involve Toyota Sienna minivans equipped with Uber’s autonomous driving system and Toyota’s Guardian automated safety support, plus its connected mobility services platform [as pictured]. Ultimately, however, Uber and Toyota expect the subsequent mass-produced vehicles to be owned and operated by third-party fleets.

Dr. Gill Pratt, CEO of Toyota Research Institute and TMC Fellow, explained in a statement: “Uber’s automated driving system and Toyota’s Guardian system will independently monitor the vehicle environment and real-time situation, enhancing overall vehicle safety for both the automated driver and the vehicle. We look forward to this partnership accelerating both companies’ development and deployment of automated driving technology.”

Shigeki Tomoyama, executive vice president, TMC , and president, Toyota Connected Company, said: “Combining efforts with Uber, one of the predominant global ride-sharing and automated driving R&D companies, could further advance future mobility. This agreement and investment mark 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 include Toyota vehicles and technologies.”

Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber CEO, added: “The deal is the first of its kind for Uber, and signals our commitment to bringing world-class technologies to the Uber network… Uber’s advanced technology and Toyota’s commitment to safety and its renowned manufacturing prowess make this partnership a natural fit."

-Farah Alkhalisi