Uber might begin selling its autonomous driving systems to outside companies, including major automakers, according to a new report from Japan’s Nikkei. The report claims that Uber has had talks with Toyota regarding supplying the automaker with self-driving tech, and that the two are currently in negotiations around how this would work, with talk of putting the autonomous tech developed by Uber into a Toyota-made minivan.
The deal comes as a Toyota VP and Toyota Research Institute CEO Gill Pratt met with Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi at Uber’s Pittsburgh Advanced Technologies Group R&D center. Uber has also teamed up with Volvo to co-develop self-driving technology, and uses the XC90 SUV as its test platform for its own current autonomous vehicles.
For Uber, partnering with more automakers could mean speedier development of its own AV systems, and a way to prime the market for a network of autonomous ride-hailing vehicles sourced from consumer and automaker fleets. Rival Lyft is making its own autonomous systems with Magna, one of the world’s leading auto suppliers, and the fruits of that collaboration could put it in fine form to see its products introduced in many automaker vehicles.
Meanwhile, Toyota has just introduced a new company springing out of its Toyota Research Group – TRI-AD, or Toyota Research Group-Advanced Development, which will focus specifically on brining TRI’s work on autonomous driving to market. This recent move could be an indicator that TRI’s work on self-driving isn’t translating to something ready for commercial products quite quick enough, so teaming with Uber could be a means to try to help accelerate those efforts.
This isn’t a done deal yet, however, according to the report, so anything could happen. But it’s an interesting glimpse into the autonomous driving strategy at both Uber and Toyota.