Japanese car manufacturer Toyota has announced that it will expand its collaboration with ride-hailing firm Uber to develop self-driving cars ‘at scale’.

Under the partnership, technology from each company will be integrated into specially-designed Toyota vehicles that will eventually be deployed on Uber’s network.

Toyota is also investing US$500 million in Uber.

Uber’s self-driving car testing was temporarily suspended in March after a pedestrian was killed by a vehicle that was in autonomous mode – despite the fact that a human operator was in the front seat at the time.

The governor of Arizona, where the accident took place, banned Uber from resuming testing in the state, saying the incident showed an “unquestionable failure” by the company to make safety a priority.

The new deal would appear to be a boost for Uber’s research, and Toyota says the partnership will help its ‘transformation to a mobility company’.

Shigeki Tomoyama, executive vice president of Toyota Motor Corporation and president of Toyota Connected Company, said: “Combining efforts with Uber, one of the predominant global ride-sharing and automated driving research and development companies, could further advance future mobility. This agreement and investment marks 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 includes Toyota vehicles and technologies.”

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

The initial fleet will be based on Toyota’s Sienna minivan platform and will use Uber’s Autonomous Driving System and the Toyota Guardian automated safety support system.

Toyota claims pilot-scale self-driving cars will be deployed on Uber’s network in 2021.


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