Several of Toyota Group’s subsidiaries will enter a formal partnership later this year in pursuit of development of autonomous driving technology. By collaborating, these companies aim to develop ‘integrated packages of self-driving systems’ for future products.
Jtekt, Advics, Aisin Seiki, and Denso will be part of the joint venture with Denso being the controlling interest through a majority stake. Advics is an Aisin subsidiary that produces brake components. Japan’s Nikkei reports that in addition to supplying components to parent company Toyota, the joint venture also aims to sell the integrated packages to other automobile manufacturers worldwide. The packages would combine steering, braking, and acceleration control using artificial intelligence technology.
With this joint venture, Toyota aims to go up against international firms that are developing similar technology like Germany’s Robert Bosch, China’s Baidu, and Waymo, a Google affiliate. Baidu announced its Apollo autonomous driving platform last year which is an open-source collaboration between global partners. The aim is to accelerate the development of autonomous driving technology, with over 100 partners already pooling their know-how and resources into Apollo. Names include big firms like Bosch, BMW, Daimler, and Great Wall Motor, a Chinese automaker. Apollo’s source code is also available on GitHub for anyone to use.
The joint venture will be established by the end of this year, with Toyota pouring in big money towards the development of future autonomous technology. It plans to push its Level 3 autonomy called Highway Teammate through the Lexus brand in 2020. The Highway Teammate will primarily enable cars to switch lanes without human assistance on expressways. At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Toyota will also supply road-worthy prototypes of its e-Palette self-driving car concept.
The Japanese automaker has recently invested majorly in artificial intelligence research in Michigan and Silicon Valley. Earlier in 2018, the company also established a division called Toyota Research Institute- Advanced Development in Tokyo. TRIAD was set up in collaboration with Denso and Aisin to further develop and fine-tune self-driving software. By 2025, Toyota aims to employ Level 4 autonomy to its entire range of vehicles through the new joint venture.