Uber is reportedly in talks with Toyota over the potential sale of the ride-hailing company’s self-driving tech to the Japanese automaker, according to a new report by Nikkei Asian Review. Uber’s Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi also recently met with Shigeki Tomoyama, an executive vice president at Toyota, and Gill Pratt, chief of Toyota’s artificial intelligence development center in Silicon Valley, at Uber’s research and development center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Toyota is not the only company Uber wants to sell its self-driving system to, as the ride-sharing service is open to all outside buyers interested in its autonomous driving technology.
As part of a potential partnership with Toyota, Uber’s self-driving system will be integrated into the giant automaker’s minivan. Uber’s self-driving technology is designed to collect and analyze data from sensors, cameras, and light detection and ranging (lidar) system to enable automated driving in a vehicle unless a human driver takes over. While Toyota and Uber are discussing the sale of the latter’s autonomous driving system to the automotive manufacturer, Toyota has its own technologies developed in-house for its self-driving push. The automaker officially announced e-Palette platform at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show held in early January and Uber as one of its partners to develop and optimize the platform for large-scale use. The e-Palette platform is meant to encompass the type of autonomous ride-sharing and ride-hailing services offered by Uber and other companies. Further to that, the platform also envisions mobile warehouses, restaurants, clinics, and repair shops. In spite of the fact that it does have its home-grown platform, the company nonetheless also intends to build vehicles for mobility services using self-driving technologies from outside companies, and the reported negotiation with Uber might just be the first step in that direction.
Uber’s recent partnerships with automakers include the one signed with Daimler in January last year in which the German automotive company will provide Uber with vehicles to use in its self-driving car network. Daimler joins the likes of Ford and Volvo, which already supplied vehicles for Uber’s network in various states in the United States. In November 2017, Volvo entered an agreement with Uber to provide 24,000 Volvo vehicles for the ride-sharing company’s fleet of driverless vehicles.