Toyota to invest $2.8bn through venture in self-driving vehicles

Firms such as Waymo and Tesla's developments of electric vehicles has challenged the traditional automobile industry

FILE PHOTO: An onboard display monitor shows other vehicles as a staff member of Toyota Motor Corp drives its self-driving technology "Mobility Teammate Concept" prototype car hands-free on the Metropolitan Expressway during the Toyota Advanced Technologies media preview in Tokyo, Japan, October 8, 2015.   REUTERS/Yuya Shino/File Photo
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Toyota Motor Corporation said a new venture would be investing more than $2.8bn to develop automated-driving software - the latest salvo in an increasingly frenetic battle to be ahead in a sector hit by a slew of disruptive technologies.

The Tokyo-based venture, which will bring together some 1,000 employees including new hires, will be 90 per cent held by Toyota with group suppliers Denso Corporation and Aisin Seiki Company each taking 5 per cent.

"This company's mission is to accelerate software development in a more effective and disruptive way, by augmenting the Toyota Group's capability through the hiring of world-class software engineers," James Kuffner, who will lead the venture, said in a statement.

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


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English is set to be the main business language of the new venture, the statement said.

Toyota is also investing $1 billion in artificial intelligence and other technologies through its US-based Toyota Research Institute and has struck up technology partnerships with Microsoft and Uber Technologies.

Last month, Toyota Research Institute's venture capital unit said it was co-leading an $11.5m 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.