In terms of autonomous driving, Toyota has always been relatively low-key, because it has been delving into technology. Previously, Toyota had announced that it would launch L4 self-driving cars during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to provide mobile travel services in venues and athletes’ residence areas. Recently, the global automaker giant has invested in Chinese self-driving startups to meet the needs of autonomous driving technology research and development.
On February 26, autonomous driving startup Pony.ai （小马智行“Xiaoma Zhixing”) completed a new round of financing, totaling 466.2 million US dollar, of which Toyota as the lead investor, invested 400 million US dollars. It is reported that Toyota’s investment is an extension of the two parties’ business partnership in 2019. In the future, the two companies will further expand cooperation in the field of travel to accelerate the development and commercialization of autonomous driving.
Since 2016, Toyota’s self-driving project has pressed the “fast forward button”. In the same year, TRI (Toyota Research Institute), an autonomous driving technology research and development company, was established in the United States, focusing on artificial intelligence, autonomous driving and robotics. In 2018, Toyota released the new e-Palette concept car. The car adopts front-rear symmetrical design, four wheels are designed at the four corners of the car body, and it also uses electric sliding doors. The lower chassis allows wheelchair passengers to get in and out of the car easily. To provide travel services at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is right e-Palette, which reflects Toyota’s thinking about future travel.
In the Chinese market, Toyota is also actively deploying autonomous driving, the establishment of a strategic cooperative relationship with Pony.ai is one of the examples. Although Pony.ai is a start-up company, it has made rapid progress in Robotaxi (Autonomous Taxi). Following the Robotaxi pilot operation in Guangzhou in 2018, it cooperated with Hyundai Motor in 2019 to bring the project to California U.S.. At present, the autonomous driving test vehicle jointly developed by Toyota and Pony.ai has been tested in Shanghai, Beijing and other places.