Toyota ramps up its autonomous plans with purchase of Lyft’s self-driving tech division for US$550 million

Toyota has announced that it is buying Lyft‘s self-driving technology unit for US$550 million (RM2.25 billion), with the purchase of Lyft’s Level 5 division being made through the Japanese automaker’s new subsidiary, Woven Planet. Lyft will receive US$200 million (RM820 million) upfront, subject to certain closing adjustments, with the remaining US$350 million (RM1.43 billion) coming over a five-year period.

The acquisition of Level 5 will provide Toyota access to more than 300 employees of the American ride-hailing firm’s autonomomous project as well as a direct presence in Silicon Valley and London. For Lyft, the deal will allow it to become profitable sooner and takes away the burden and risk of developing a costly technology that isn’t mainstream yet, Reuters reports.

The addition is expected to accelerate Toyota’s self-driving tech plans, but it is unlikely to be the last. According to CEO James Kuffner, Woven Planet intends to continue investing and growing the team, but did not disclose details.

The automaker, which currently offers Level 2 automation with advanced driver assistance technology, has other self-driving projects, including a joint venture with SoftBank Corp. Last month, it made an equity investment in Nuro, a leading robotics company providing autonomous delivery.

It also owns a stake in ride-hailing providers Didi Chuxing and Grab, and is also forming a consortium with General Motors, suppliers and semiconductor companies. Toyota previously had a stake in the self-driving unit of Lyft’s rival Uber, but transferred the stake when Uber sold the unit last December to car startup Aurora.

Earlier this week, the automaker announced that it and Daihatsu, Mazda, Subaru and Suzuki had reached an agreement to jointly develop technical specifications for next-generation vehicle communications devices in the interest of promoting the common use of these systems, which will be paramount in autonomous driving.

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