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Toyota pours US$500m into driverless car tieup with Uber
[SAN FRANCISCO] Toyota will pump about US$500 million into Uber as part of a deal to work together on mass-producing self-driving vehicles, the Japanese car giant said on Tuesday.
The deal, which reportedly values Uber at about US$72 billion, aims at "advancing and bringing to market autonomous ride-sharing as a mobility service at scale," Toyota said in a statement.
Technology from both companies will be integrated into purpose-built Toyota vehicles and deployed on Uber's ride-sharing platform, with the first pilot rollout set for 2021.
"The deal is the first of its kind for Uber and signals our commitment to bringing world-class technologies to the Uber network," said CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.
The agreement came as the smartphone-summoned ride service is throttling back its solo effort to develop autonomous vehicle technology.
Uber suspended its self-driving car programme after a crash killed a woman pushing a bicycle in a street in Arizona in March.
Last month, the San-Francisco-based firm took a tentative step toward restarting the program, putting self-driving cars back on the road in "manual mode," with a driver at the wheel at all times.
The testing will enable Uber to gather data on different scenarios that will be recreated in computer simulations, and also develop more accurate mapping for the vehicles.
Uber is among a number of technology and car companies racing toward what some say is an inevitable future in which vehicles drive themselves.
The statement said the "mass-produced autonomous vehicles" would be owned and operated by "mutually agreed-upon third-party autonomous fleet operators."