A mere two months after acquiring Uber's self-driving car unit (and a $400 million investment from 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) that will see the three firms work together to develop and test vehicles with Aurora's Driver technology. They'll first integrate the hardware and software into a fleet of Toyota Sienna minivans before deploying it within a full-scale robotaxai service. "By the end of 2021, we expect to have designed, built and begun testing an initial fleet of these Siennas near our areas of development," the company said. "It brings our companies together to lay the groundwork for the mass-production, launch and support of these vehicles with Toyota on ride-hailing networks, including Uber's, over the next few years."
Autonomous driving startup Aurora announced on Tuesday that it has scored a partnership with Toyota to build self-driving taxis based on the Toyota Sienna minivan. Aurora says it's aiming to have a fleet of Sienna prototypes ready for testing on public roads by the end of the year. Denso, a major Japanese auto parts manufacturer, will also contribute to the project. This story originally appeared on Ars Technica, a trusted source for technology news, tech policy analysis, reviews, and more. Ars is owned by WIRED's parent company, Condé Nast.
Aurora Innovation Inc., a Silicon Valley-based autonomous-driving startup with at least a $10 billion valuation, has agreed to a long-term strategic partnership with Toyota Motor Corp. and its supplier Denso Corp. that aims to mass produce autonomous vehicles and launch them on ride-hailing networks, including Uber's, over the next few years. The first model that will be equipped with the Aurora Driver, the company's hardware, software and sensor suite, is the Toyota Sienna minivan, with testing of an initial fleet to begin this year. Toyota, which overtook Volkswagen AG as the world's top-selling automaker in 2020, is also an investor in Uber Technologies Inc. and has a formidable brand that has long been associated with high volume manufacturing and safety. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Toyota will gain an observer seat on Aurora's board. "This is a really exciting set of developments," said Sterling Anderson, Aurora's Chief Product Officer, in an interview.
Eighteen months ago, Uber's self-driving car unit, Uber Advanced Technologies Group, was valued at $7.25 billion following a $1 billion investment from Toyota, DENSO and SoftBank's Vision Fund. Now, it's up for sale and a competing autonomous vehicle technology startup is in talks with Uber to buy it, according to three sources familiar with the deal. Aurora Innovation, the startup founded by three veterans of the autonomous vehicle industry who led programs at Google, Tesla and Uber, is in negotiations to buy Uber ATG. Terms of the deal are still unknown, but sources say the two companies have been in talks since October and it is far along in the process. An Uber spokesperson declined to comment, citing that the company's general policy is not to comment on these sorts of inquiries.