Just two months after Uber acquired the self-driving car unit (and a $ 400 million investment by the company), autonomous vehicle startup Aurora is partnering with the world’s largest automaker. On Tuesday, the company announced a partnership with Toyota and Japanese auto parts supplier Denso (via The Verge), in which the three companies will work together to develop and test vehicles using Aurora’s driver technology. They will first integrate the hardware and software into a fleet of Toyota Sienna minivans before using them in a full Robotaxai service.
“We expect to design, build and test an initial fleet of these Sienna’s near our development areas by the end of 2021,” the company said. “It brings our companies together to lay the foundations to mass-produce, launch and support these vehicles with Toyota in hail networks, including Ubers, over the next few years.”
Today’s announcement is important to Toyota in that, with all the effort it has put into developing its own autonomous vehicle technologies, the company hasn’t had much to show. Speaking at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the automaker said it would allow people to drive cars equipped with Level 4 chauffeur-driven technology, among other things with self-driving vehicle projects. These demos had to wait thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. We have also not yet seen Toyota integrating “Guardian”, the driver assistance system that was announced together with Chauffeur in 2019, into a production vehicle. At the time, Toyota said this would soon be offered to any automaker that wanted to take advantage of it.