Toyota set to team up with Uber on driver-less cars

Toyota's move into self-driving cars is imminent. Not sure it means we'll see a Camry Uber but time will tell

SUPPLIED Toyota's move into self-driving cars is imminent. Not sure it means we'll see a Camry Uber but time will tell

The Japanese automaker is investing $500 million in Uber, the companies said on Monday.

Toyota and Uber are said to be partnering to develop self-driving vehicle technology, an area where Uber has struggled.

He said: "Our goal is to deploy the world's safest self-driving cars on the Uber network, and this agreement is another significant step towards making that a reality".

The deal is evidence that Uber no longer wants to go it alone in autonomous cars.

The deal, which reportedly values Uber at about $72 billion, aims at "advancing and bringing to market autonomous ride-sharing as a mobility service at scale", Toyota said in a statement. However, this partnership is unique as the vehicles won't be owned or operated by either company. SoftBank's founder, Masayoshi Son, has poured as much as $9.5 billion into Didi, led a $9.3 billion investment in Uber and also has stakes in Grab and India's Ola. During the International Consumer Electronics Show in January, the two companies announced e-Palette, an autonomous vehicle concept that could be used for everything from pizza delivery to ridesharing. The partnership deepens an existing relationship and reflects Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi's strategy of Uber developing autonomous vehicles through partnerships, rather than on its own. As with traditional rental companies like Avis Budget Group Inc., Toyota is also trying to sell Uber fleet-management services based on the rapidly expanding volume of data it's collecting from connected cars.

Uber suspended its self-driving vehicle testing in the Phoenix area, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto. These services include being able to monitor whether a auto is being properly maintained or driven too aggressively.

Uber has said it considers self-driving technology crucial to its future - but it has had a bumpy ride. Over that time, the company's share price has seen more ups and downs than a typical privately held company. Since a self-driving Uber SUV killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, in March, Uber has removed its robot cars from the road, laid off hundreds of test drivers and shuttered operations in Arizona, its autonomous testing hub.

Uber has had many such partnerships earlier with Volvo and Daimler AG. However, the company says it plans to begin testing self-driving electric cars around 2020.

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