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Image: Toyota

Toyota Motor Corporation and SoftBank Corporation are to establish a joint venture company, MONET Technologies Corporation, by the end of the 2018-19 fiscal year. The aim is to create new mobility services, co-ordinating Toyota’s connected-vehicles Mobility Services Platform (MSPF) and SoftBank’s IoT platform, which collects and analyses data from smartphones and sensor devices.

MONET (‘MObility NETwork’) intends to optimize the data in terms of transportation supply and demand, with a view to launching new Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) businesses. Its first phase will include rolling out just-in-time vehicle dispatch for public agencies and private companies in Japan, such as on-demand shuttles.

To follow from 2025, Toyota’s e-Palette autonomous electric vehicle [pictured] will be deployed in applications including mobility, logistics and sales: TMC cites “demand-focused just-in-time mobility services, such as meal deliveries where food is prepared while on the move; hospital shuttles where onboard medical examinations can be performed; mobile offices; and many more.”

Honda teams up with Cruise and GM on autonomy

Honda is also planning to build an autonomous vehicle for large-scale deployment in a wide variety of use-cases. It is to work with General Motors and Cruise Automation to develop a purpose-built model, and to explore global opportunities for commercial application of the Cruise network; it is investing around $2billion over 12 years into the joint initiative as well as taking a $750million stake in Cruise, which has already developed autonomous prototypes in partnership with GM. Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt said in a statement: “The Honda partnership paves the way for massive scale by bringing a beautiful, efficient, and purpose-built vehicle to our network of shared autonomous vehicles.”

Ford, Uber, Lyft to share data

In a different type of tie-up, Ford Motor Company is teaming up with ride-hailing leaders Uber and Lyft on a shared data platform called SharedStreets. This is designed to better-connect private-sector businesses with city authorities to improve urban mobility – reducing congestion and emissions, increasing service efficiencies, guarding against collisions, and preparing for the arrival of autonomous vehicles.

The three firms will work with the US’s National Association of City Transport Officials (NACTO), the Open Transport Partnership, and the consortium funding the data platform, Bloomberg Philanthropies. SharedStreets is described as a “universal data language” and “a launching pad for public-private collaboration”; it is already in operation in over 30 cities around the world.

Ford will look into a universal standard for real-time curb demand (from users, for vehicles) and availability, plus a pricing mechanism to encourage the use of more sustainable, cleaner transport and reallocate road space; Uber and Lyft will provide open data-sets of driving speeds; and a universal framework will be produced to share curbside pick-up/drop-off data.

-Farah Alkhalisi