Toyota will sink a half-billion dollars into Uber and work jointly with the ride-hailing giant to develop self-driving vehicles, a person briefed on the matter said Monday.
The deal is a sign that Uber no longer wants to go it alone in creating an autonomous driving system since one of its test vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian on a darkened street in Tempe, Arizona, earlier this year.
The deal also will help both the Japanese automaker and Uber spread out the cost of designing and building the complex systems, which use computers, cameras, radar and laser sensors to guide the self-driving vehicles. And it will help them compete against rivals General Motors and Google’s Waymo, which experts say are leading the autonomous-vehicle race.
Development of self-driving vehicles is important to Uber to reduce the cost of carrying passengers. If it fails, rivals with self-driving cars could offer rides at a lower cost.
Further details of the deal were not available, and the person briefed on the matter declined to be identified because an official release hasn’t been issued.
The deal was reported earlier Monday by The Wall Street Journal.
In March, one of Uber’s self-driving test vehicles ran down pedestrian Elaine Herzberg as she crossed a road outside the lines of a crosswalk. Authorities determined that the vehicle’s sensors spotted the woman but its automatic-braking function had been disabled in favor of a human backup driver. Tempe police said the driver was distracted before the crash.
Uber has since pulled its self-driving cars out of Arizona, costing 300 jobs, and suspended testing in other cities. In July, Uber took a step toward relaunching autonomous vehicle testing in Pittsburgh streets. The company said it put a handful of vehicles back on the road with some safety modifications to the cars and driver training. But for now, the cars won’t be free of human control or respond to ride-hailing calls.