Toyota buys U.S. mapping, street facts company to bulk up driverless tech

Toyota Motor Corp’s emblem on Estima Hybrid product is pictured at its headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, February 6, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

TOKYO, July 15 (Reuters) – Toyota Motor Corp’s (7203.T) investigate arm claimed on Thursday it obtained U.S.-primarily based Carmera, a provider of maps and data for driverless vehicles, marking the Japanese auto maker’s newest investment decision in autonomous know-how.

The order, through freshly made subsidiary Woven Earth for an undisclosed sum, underscores Toyota’s press to bulk up its self-driving arsenal as traditional automakers compete with the autonomous ambitions of tech giants like Apple (AAPL.O) and Amazon (AMZN.O).

Purchasing Carmera will give Toyota obtain to real-time, large-definition maps and crowdsourced inputs that are critical for autonomous autos to track down and navigate themselves, the companies stated in a statement.

The two companies have collaborated considering the fact that 2018 on assignments such as technological know-how that updates repainted lane markings on higher-definition maps with accuracy.

“It is really extremely well aligned with our expansion globally as a organization,” Woven World main executive James Kuffner informed Reuters in an job interview on Wednesday.

Woven Planet was proven in January to devote in and establish mobility with synthetic intelligence. It is setting up a prototype “city of the upcoming” called Woven Town at the base of Mount Fuji, powered by hydrogen fuel cells that would be a laboratory for autonomous cars and trucks.

With the acquisition, Kuffner explained Woven Planet would glimpse to create and offer an open map platform to unique products companies and automakers who wished correct and refreshing information.

“With Carmera, we are just accelerating. We’ll keep on to accelerate … and glimpse for strategic partnerships or acquisitions,” Kuffner reported, incorporating he preferred to “double or quadruple” the sizing of Woven Planet in the up coming pair of yrs through natural and organic development and acquisitions.

Previously this year, Toyota purchased trip-hailing company Lyft Inc’s (LYFT.O) self-driving technological know-how device for $550 million, and invested in Ridecell that supplies automation for fleet businesses. read through far more

The Japanese firm has other self-driving partnerships, which includes a joint undertaking with SoftBank Corp (9434.T), stakes in China’s Didi Global Inc (DIDI.N) and Singapore’s Grab, and is forming a consortium with Common Motors Co (GM.N), suppliers and chipmakers.

Transferring into new and non-conventional automobile generating these kinds of as driverless and electric powered engineering, Toyota has progressively married its storied production system with extra modern acquisitions of startups and Silicon Valley know-how to build the next era of automobiles.

“There is so much uncertainty in the automotive space ideal now,” said Kuffner.

“But the only factor that I am guaranteed of is that it will seem really diverse in 10 or 30 years. The only issue we can do is to test to develop the upcoming by expenditure … take the profits from Toyota’s current company and spend it in the foreseeable future, to produce the long term of the Toyota Team.”

Most automakers like Toyota offer Degree 2 automation where by the car steers and accelerates but the driver need to be all set to acquire the wheel, and experts say absolutely self-pushed cars and trucks are several years away.

Nevertheless, Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) CEO Elon Musk promised previously this thirty day period that a beta variation of its engineering that supports completely autonomous driving with no driver intervention will be accessible in “a month or so”. Toyota rival GM confirmed off a absolutely autonomous all-electric powered traveling Cadillac principle vehicle earlier this calendar year.

Reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu, Maki Shiraki Editing by Sayantani Ghosh and Muralikumar Anantharaman

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