DETROIT – Toyota Motor Corp will acquire Lyft Inc’s self-driving technology unit for $550 million, the companies said Tuesday, as the Japanese auto company steps up its automation ambitions with the newly created Woven Planet division.
The acquisition of Level 5 automation will also provide Toyota access to the U.S. ride-hailing firm’s more than 300 employees of the essentially complete autonomy technology. read more
“This is the first step of establishing and bringing together the people. Obviously building technology and product requires people, and that’s much what this acquisition is about,” Woven Planet chief executive James Kuffner told reporters on Tuesday.
It will also give Toyota a direct presence in Silicon Valley and London and expand smart-city project “Woven City” at the base of Japan’s Mt. Fuji, effectively helping it ride through dramatic changes expected in the mobility industry and major centers, he said.
For Lyft, the deal will allow it to become profitable sooner and takes away the burden and risk of developing a costly technology that has yet to enter the mainstream.
Kuffner said Woven Planet, which was set up in January, intends to continue investing and growing the team, although he refrained from commenting about any timeline or future acquisition plans.
Takaki Nakanishi, analyst and chief executive of the Nakanishi Research Institute, said by expanding partnerships, Toyota is “moving a step towards realizing its goals”, including self-driving technology.
Toyota, which currently offers Level 2 automation with advanced driver assistance technology, has other self-driving projects including a joint venture with SoftBank Corp and is forming a consortium with General Motors Co , suppliers and semiconductor companies.
This story was published by Reuters.