Toyota, SoftBank to partner in self-driving and other technology: Source

Reuters

Toyota Motor Corp and SoftBank Group Corp will announce a partnership on automated driving and other technology on Thursday, a source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The two companies plan to hold a joint news conference later in the day. Toyota President Akio Toyoda and SoftBank Group CEO Masayoshi Son will attend a session to be held alongside the conference, they said in a joint statement, without providing additional details.

Japan’s highest-profile companies will announce that they will partner up to develop self-driving vehicles and other new mobility technologies, the source said on condition of anonymity as the nature of the announcement was confidential.

Partnerships in automated driving technologies are on the rise as established players fear being left behind in the rapidly changing industry.

On Wednesday, Honda Motor Co Ltd said it would invest US$2.75 billion and take a 5.7 per cent stake in General Motors Co’s Cruise self-driving vehicle unit, in which SoftBank is also an investor.

Toyota and SoftBank do not have any major partnerships in mobility technologies at the moment, although both are developing technologies for self-driving vehicles, car sharing and other services.

Toyota, one of the world’s largest automakers, has been developing automated driving and artificial intelligence technologies in-house and with its group suppliers, while acquiring some technology start-ups.

Both Toyota and SoftBank have investments and partnerships with Uber Technologies and ride-hailing firm Grab, and Didi Chuxing.

The automaker envisions the future of transportation services will include convoys of shuttle bus-sized, self-driving multi-purpose vehicles used, for instance, as pay-per-use mobile restaurants and hotels.

SoftBank has its own autonomous vehicle unit, SB Drive, which has been developing self-driving technology for buses.