Toyota to invest $500m in Uber at $72b valuation

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The Japanese auto company will invest $500 million (Rs 3,505 crore) in the cab aggregator firm for the objective, Reuters reported on Tuesday. Uber's Autonomous Driving System and the Toyota Guardian automated safety support system will both be integrated into the Autono-MaaS vehicles.

This would certainly be a smart move on Uber's part - the company has been at the center of quite a bit of controversy following a fatal crash involving one of the company's autonomous vehicles back in March.

By the time that happens, Uber hopes to have completed an initial public offering of stock that will enrich a list of early investors that now includes Toyota.

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Unlike Uber's partnership with Volvo, the ride-hailing company will not own these vehicles, according to the source. Toyota has also had a partnership earlier with Uber. During the International Consumer Electronics Show in January, the two companies announced e-Palette, an autonomous vehicle concept that could be used for everything from pizza delivery to ridesharing.

Uber and Didi are also partnering Toyota in the carmaker's vision for a fleet of autonomous, modular boxes on wheels that can be customised to transport anything from people to pizza.

Previous reports indicated that Uber executives have been debating the future of the company's autonomous vehicle unit.

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In March, one of the company's self-driving test vehicles ran down a pedestrian on a dark street in Tempe, Arizona. The combined technology will be built into Toyota's Sienna minivans, to be deployed on Uber's ride-hailing network starting in 2021, Uber said. "We knew we couldn't do it alone, which is why we continue to partner with world-class vehicle manufacturers to make our vision a reality". Uber shuttered its research and development efforts in Arizona in May, and only recently returned to the streets of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

For Uber, the deal with Toyota raises its valuation and matches the value of shares given to Waymo after Uber settled a lawsuit over self-driving cars. In another, Daimler AG will own and operate its own self-driving cars on Uber's network. But the company has invested in research and said it plans to begin testing self-driving electric cars around 2020.

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