Uber, Toyota seek self-driving car tech deal

Uber wants to become a provider of self-driving technologies for automakers including Toyota.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer
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Uber and Toyota are in talks to use the ride-hailing service's self-driving technologies in Toyota minivans.

According to the Japanese publication Nikkei, Uber is already well underway in forging partnerships with automakers, but Toyota is a key player in the potential adoption of Uber self-driving technologies in commercial vehicles.

Nikkei reports that Uber and Toyota are currently in negotiations to include Uber's technologies in a Toyota minivan model.

Shigeki Tomoyama, a Toyota executive vice president, and Gill Pratt, part of Toyota's artificial intelligence (AI) development team, met with Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi this week at the Uber R&D center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Uber's self-driving technology includes LIDAR laser scanning and sensor systems, mapping capabilities and data collection, and is already being tested in Pittsburgh.

"While Uber is still in the early days of our self-driving efforts, every day of testing leads to improvements," the company says. "Right now we're focused on getting the technology right and ensuring it's safe for everyone on the road -- pedestrians, cyclists, and other drivers."

Toyota already plans to pour $2.8 billion into a new autonomous vehicle technologies research venture through the creation of a new company.

However, this has not ruled out services and solutions offered by other companies. The automaker has already partnered with Uber on the development of self-driving systems and is open to working with others to push mobility solutions forward in the autonomous vehicle space.

Toyota is also an Uber investor and offers tailored leasing services to Uber drivers.

A Toyota spokeswoman told Reuters that while "we regularly exchange information about automated driving with Uber," no final decisions beyond its existing partnership have been finalized.

See also: UK HumanDrive initiative to test self-driving cars on country roads

Earlier this month, Toyota, JapanTaxi, KDDI, and Accenture revealed a partnership in order to pilot and improve an artificial intelligence (AI)-based taxi dispatch system.

The pilot, already underway in Tokyo, Japan, relies on AI technologies to predict consumer demand and improve transport availability in light of local events, weather reports, and accidents.

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