Toyota is partnering with Aurora and Denso to develop autonomous vehicles, rather than going it alone.
Autonomous vehicles are widely seen as the next big step for the automotive industry. Whether it be a personal vehicle, mass transportation or rides-sharing, autonomous driving promises to usher in an era of safer, less distracted driving.
Automakers are taking different approaches to autonomous driving. Some, like Volkswagen, are developing their software in-house. Toyota, on the other hand, has decided to work with partners and industry leaders.
Akio Toyoda, Toyota President, outlined the company’s goals:
Rather than conduct development on our own―without friends and partners―we can partner and collaborate with others who share our aspirations. Rather than keep our patents to ourselves, we can open them up and create more new friends. Rather than sell only cars, we can provide various services in which vehicles are incorporated into a system and focus more broadly and openly on contributing to the improvement of society.
The company is partnering with Aurora and Denso to begin developing autonomous ride-sharing vehicles, starting with the Sienna. The goal is to design, build and be testing a fleet of the minivans by the end of 2021. Once testing is complete, the vehicles will be built and supported for various ride-hailing companies.
“Toyota has an unparalleled legacy, engineering expertise, leadership, and ability to deliver high-quality, affordable, and reliable vehicles,” said Chris Urmson, Aurora CEO. “They’re also the preferred vehicle brand for transporting riders on ride-hailing networks, so we’re excited and honored to work with them to unlock driverless mobility services with the Aurora Driver. Our development work on highway driving to support our first commercial product, a driverless truck, will also be critical for safely moving people, as a significant fraction of ride-share bookings today require the ability to drive over 50 mph.”
“Toyota is dedicated to creating and realizing mobility for all by focusing on technology that will move people safely and responsibly, a vision Aurora shares with us,” said Keiji Yamamoto, Operating Officer of Toyota and President of Connected Company. “By combining our expertise and know-how in vehicle control systems, mass-production, Connected Car technology, and our advanced safety support systems with Aurora’s industry-leading approach to self-driving technology, we aim to commercialize and deliver safe, high-quality, and affordable autonomous ride-sharing vehicles and services.”