Toyota Motor Corp. is looking at the possibility of offering autonomous driving technologies to ride-hailing companies, according to reports on May 16.
This is part of the Japanese automaker’s expansion efforts to become a company that does not only offer cars but also mobility services.
Toyota has partnered with US ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies Inc. to develop a new driverless system which the automaker is planning to supply to other ride-hailing companies such as Grab Taxi Holdings Pte Ltd of Singapore and ANI Technologies Pvt Ltd’s Ola of India.
Additionally, Toyota will be investing $1 billion in Uber’s new subsidiary with the goal of developing self-driving vehicles where they will be joined by SoftBank Group Corp. SoftBank Group is Uber’s largest shareholder and has also previously invested in Grab and Ola. Toyota is also a stakeholder in Grab, which dominates ride-hailing services across Southeast Asia.
This brings Toyota closer to its goals of widening its scope of business to offering advanced mobility services that would eventually lead to “driverless taxis”.
Aside from a self-driving technology, Toyota also partnered with SoftBank Corp., the mobile phone arm of SoftBank Group, in developing other services using self-driving vehicles as well as other automotive technologies.
Although SoftBank Group was revealed to have invested in China’s leading ride-hailing firm, Didi Chuxing Technology Co., Toyota thinks it could be difficult to supply new technologies developed by a U.S. company to a Chinese firm given the two countries’ growing problems over technology transfers and other trade practices.
Other technologies currently in development under the Toyota umbrella is the sophisticated driver-assistance product also known as “Guardian,” which will be programmed to intervene when a driver makes a potentially deadly mistake, as well as “Chauffeur,” which is the automaker’s line of fully autonomous vehicles similar to Waymo and the GM Cruise.