- Uber has announced a partnership with Toyota to advance its driverless car business.
- Toyota will invest $500 million in Uber as part of the agreement and work collaboratively on developing autonomous vehicles (AVs), according to Reuters.
- Uber will outfit Toyota Sienna minivans with its driverless technology and use the fleet for its ride-sharing service starting in 2021. The partners are seeking a third party to own and operate the fleet.
News of this partnership comes just after the Financial Times published an interview with Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, in which he confirmed that the company plans to move forward with self-driving technologies, despite this year's high-profile fatal crash in Arizona involving an Uber AV.
Likewise, Toyota has been continuing its push into the driverless vehicle space with the announcement this spring that it will convert a 60-acre site in Michigan into an AV test driving facility.
The partnership could be a significant boon for both entities, as some consider them to lag other rivals on the AV front. Toyota could also provide Uber with a much-needed public relations boost regarding safety, thanks to its safety-focused Guardian AV platform that has features like lane deviation avoidance. Part of what has prompted Toyota to be less aggressive than competitors in AV development reportedly is the desire develop the technology cautiously as opposed to rushing to market with an inferior, potentially dangerous product.
Other companies also are turning to partnerships to bolster their AV operations. Waymo, for example, forged a deal with Jaguar Land Rover to add tens of thousands of I-Pace SUVs to its autonomous taxi lineup, in addition to its deal with Fiat Chrysler for thousands of minivans.