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Toyota buys U.S. mapping and highway information agency to bulk up driverless tech By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Toyota Motor Corp’s emblem on Estima Hybrid mannequin is pictured at its headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, February 6, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

By Eimi Yamamitsu and Maki Shiraki

TOKYO (Reuters) – Toyota Motor (NYSE:) Corp mentioned on Thursday it acquired U.S.-based Carmera, a supplier of maps and information for driverless automobiles, marking the Japanese automobile maker’s newest funding in autonomous expertise.

The acquisition, via newly created subsidiary Woven Planet for an undisclosed sum, underscores Toyota’s push to bulk up its self-driving arsenal as conventional automakers compete with the autonomous ambitions of tech giants together with Apple (NASDAQ:) and Amazon (NASDAQ:).

Shopping for Carmera will give Toyota entry to real-time, high-definition maps and crowdsourced inputs which are important for autonomous automobiles to find and navigate themselves, the businesses mentioned in an announcement.

The 2 corporations have collaborated since 2018 on tasks together with expertise that updates repainted lane markings on high-definition maps with accuracy.

“It’s totally properly aligned with our enlargement globally as an organization,” Woven Planet chief government James Kuffner instructed Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.

With the acquisition, Kuffner mentioned Woven Planet would look to develop and promote an open map platform to authentic gear producers and automakers who wished correct and recent information.

“With Carmera, we’re simply accelerating. We’ll proceed to speed up … and search for strategic partnerships or acquisitions,” Kuffner mentioned, including he wished to “double or quadruple” the scale of Woven Planet within the subsequent couple of years through natural development and acquisitions.

Earlier this 12 months, Toyota purchased ride-hailing service Lyft Inc (NASDAQ:)’s self-driving expertise unit for $550 million, and invested in Ridecell that gives automation for fleet companies.

The Japanese agency has different self-driving partnerships, together with a three way partnership with SoftBank Corp, stakes in China’s Didi World Inc and Singapore’s Seize, and is forming a consortium with Common Motors Co (NYSE:), suppliers and chipmakers.

Shifting into new and non-traditional automobile making akin to driverless and electrical expertise, Toyota has more and more married its storied manufacturing course of with more moderen acquisitions of startups and Silicon Valley know-how to develop the subsequent era of vehicles.

“There’s a lot uncertainty within the automotive house proper now,” mentioned Kuffner.

“However the one factor that I’m certain of is that it’ll look very totally different in 10 or 30 years. The one factor we are able to do is to attempt to create the long run by funding … take the income from Toyota’s current enterprise and make investments it sooner or later, to create the way forward for the Toyota Group.”

Most automakers together with Toyota provide Stage 2 automation the place the automobile steers and accelerates however the driver have to be able to take the wheel, and consultants say absolutely self-driven vehicles are years away.

Nonetheless, Tesla (NASDAQ:) Inc CEO Elon Musk promised earlier this month {that a} beta model of its expertise that helps absolutely autonomous driving with no driver intervention shall be out there in “a month or so”. Toyota rival GM confirmed off a completely autonomous all-electric flying Cadillac idea car earlier this 12 months.

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