Toyota purchases U.S. mapping, road information business to bulk up driverless tech

Toyota Motor Corp’s emblem on Estima Hybrid design is pictured at its headquarters in Tokyo,

Toyota Motor Corp’s emblem on Estima Hybrid design 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) investigation arm mentioned on Thursday it acquired U.S.-based mostly Carmera, a company of maps and knowledge for driverless motor vehicles, marking the Japanese car maker’s newest investment decision in autonomous technological innovation.

The order, through recently produced subsidiary Woven World for an undisclosed sum, underscores Toyota’s thrust to bulk up its self-driving arsenal as regular automakers contend with the autonomous ambitions of tech giants together with Apple (AAPL.O) and Amazon (AMZN.O).

Obtaining Carmera will give Toyota access to serious-time, higher-definition maps and crowdsourced inputs that are critical for autonomous vehicles to identify and navigate by themselves, the firms reported in a statement.

The two corporations have collaborated given that 2018 on projects such as technology that updates repainted lane markings on substantial-definition maps with precision.

“It truly is really very well aligned with our expansion globally as a enterprise,” Woven Planet chief executive James Kuffner explained to Reuters in an job interview on Wednesday.

Woven Earth was founded in January to devote in and create mobility with synthetic intelligence. It is setting up a prototype “metropolis of the potential” termed Woven Metropolis at the foundation of Mount Fuji, run by hydrogen gasoline cells that would be a laboratory for autonomous vehicles.

With the acquisition, Kuffner reported Woven World would glance to build and offer an open up map platform to authentic tools companies and automakers who wanted precise and contemporary information.

“With Carmera, we are just accelerating. We’ll proceed to speed up … and seem for strategic partnerships or acquisitions,” Kuffner said, incorporating he desired to “double or quadruple” the measurement of Woven Earth in the subsequent couple of several years by using natural and organic growth and acquisitions.

Previously this calendar year, Toyota bought journey-hailing services Lyft Inc’s (LYFT.O) self-driving engineering unit for $550 million, and invested in Ridecell that delivers automation for fleet companies. examine additional

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

Moving into new and non-standard car or truck producing this kind of as driverless and electric know-how, Toyota has significantly married its storied manufacturing process with additional the latest acquisitions of startups and Silicon Valley know-how to build the following technology of cars and trucks.

“There’s so much uncertainty in the automotive place suitable now,” claimed Kuffner.

“But the only matter that I am sure of is that it will glance extremely different in 10 or 30 a long time. The only detail we can do is to consider to generate the upcoming by investment … take the income from Toyota’s current enterprise and commit it in the long term, to develop the potential of the Toyota Team.”

Most automakers like Toyota offer Stage 2 automation where the automobile steers and accelerates but the driver need to be completely ready to choose the wheel, and experts say entirely self-driven autos are a long time absent.

However, Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) CEO Elon Musk promised earlier this month that a beta version of its technological know-how that supports totally autonomous driving with no driver intervention will be available in “a month or so”. Toyota rival GM showed off a fully autonomous all-electric powered flying Cadillac notion car or truck earlier this year.

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

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