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Toyota Leads $1 Billion Investment in Uber Self-Driving Tech

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Toyota, DENSO, SoftBank & Uber signing ceremony
Signing Ceremony
From left to right: Hiroyuki Wakabayashi, executive vice president of DENSO Corporation; Eric Meyhofer, Head of Uber ATG; Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber Technologies, Inc.; Shigeki Tomoyama, Toyota executive vice president; Ervin Tu, Managing Partner of Softbank Vision Fund
Photo: Toyota Global

The race to develop self-driving cars continues to accelerate, and Uber just received a major push forward in the form of a $1 billion investment from Toyota, Denso, and SoftBank Vision Fund. Toyota says the purpose of the investment is to “accelerate the development and commercialization of automated ridesharing services.”

The Japanese manufacturer led the investment, with $667 million of the total supplied by the automaker and its supplier Denso account, while SoftBank provided the remaining $333 million. Toyota also plans to invest up to $300 million more over the next three years to “help cover the costs related to these activities,” Uber says.

Toyota already invested $500 million in Uber last year, when the two companies announced they would build self-driving Toyota Sienna minivans that used a combination of Uber’s self-driving tech and Toyota’s Guardian active safety technology. This followed another, earlier investment of $300 million in 2016.

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“The development of automated driving technology will transform transportation as we know it, making our streets safer and our cities more livable,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a statement. “Today’s announcement, along with our ongoing OEM and supplier relationships, will help maintain Uber’s position at the forefront of that transformation.”

Uber has made it no secret that it wants to launch self-driving public services, eventually removing human drivers from the equation entirely. Given the potential applications of such services and the relevance to auto manufacturers like Toyota, it’s no surprise the two companies are pushing so hard to make it a really even after setbacks like last year’s incident.

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