Toyota Motor Corp will invest about $500 million in Uber Technologies Inc to jointly work on developing driverless vehicles, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The investment round values Uber at $US72 billion ($98 billion), The Journal said. Reports surfaced earlier this month that Uber investors told the company it should consider selling off its self-driving vehicle unit due to the substantial losses the project has racked up.
Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber's chief executive officer, is looking to stabilize the company after a rocky year of corporate scandals and the death of a pedestrian struck by an Uber self-driving auto. They have yet to identify the third partner, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the details are private.
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Toyota and Uber are said to be partnering to develop self-driving vehicle technology, an area where Uber has struggled.
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.
The companies' aim is to solve the enormously challenging problem of how to mass produce self-driving cars for shared fleets, including ride-hailing services.
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Uber, he said, nearly had to take on a partner after the crash.
The agreement came as the smartphone-summoned ride service is throttling back its solo effort to develop autonomous vehicle technology. The company suspended all of its testing on public roads, however, after a self-driving Uber vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona earlier this year.
The March 18 crash prompted Uber to temporarily suspend its work on its self-driving auto program while conducting a safety evaluation. 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 and streaming a television show before the crash. The company also has a partnership with Daimler AG (DAIGn.DE), in which the carmaker proposes to put its own self-driving cars in Uber's ride-hailing network.
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