Published: Fri, March 02, 2018
Business | By Kate Woods

Toyota Announces New Company Devoted to Self-Driving Cars

Toyota Announces New Company Devoted to Self-Driving Cars

Last month, Toyota Research Institute's venture capital unit said it was co-leading an $11.5-million seed investment in May Mobility, an Ann Arbor-based startup that is developing self-driving shuttles for college campuses, central business districts, and similar low-speed applications.

The three partners will invest 300 billion yen ($2.8 billion) in TRI-AD, with Toyota taking a 90 percent stake and Aisin Seiki and Denso each holding 5 percent.

The Toyota Research Institute (TRI) has been developing the company's own self-driving technology for years and even unveiled its LIDAR sensor-equipped "Platform 3.0" version of its autonomous driving system at CES earlier this year.

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Toyota is to set up a new company in Tokyo in the second half of March to accelerate its efforts in advanced development for automated driving.

Level 3 autonomy requires a backup driver to sit behind the wheel, but Toyota's new company will likely push it closer to the development of a vehicle capable of fully-automated driving.

The establishment of the new venture, Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development, comes as firms such as Alphabet's Waymo and Tesla give traditional automakers a run for their money in building self-driving and electric cars.

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Recruit and employ top-level engineers globally, while cultivating and coordinating the strong talent within the Toyota Group.
That includes a focus on how Toyota can "efficiently link research results to product development" so that new advances from the engineers can more rapidly make it to production vehicles.

The automotive industry is now in an era of profound transformation. He claimed that the project will "dramatically enhance Toyota's software capabilities".

"Toyota is known for the quality and efficiency of the Toyota Production System (TPS)". Dr. James Kuffner, now TRI Chief Technology Officer, will lead TRI-AD as its CEO. The new company will be based in Tokyo, with exact office location TBD at the moment.

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