Features
7 mai 19

Toyota invests $100 million in startups

Toyota is investing $100 million in autonomous vehicle and robotics startups, doubling its funds dedicated to startups.  

The investment of $100 million or €88.8 million will happen via a new fund from Toyota AI Ventures (TAIV). The fund is used to invest specifically in early-stage startups dedicated to developing disruptive business models in the autonomous mobility and robotics markets, of course destined for Toyota. This brings the total assets of the TAIV to more than $200 million in this kind of startups worldwide. 

The company started in 2017 and invested in 17 startups until now. So, let’s have a look at what they invested in so far. 

Robotics

  • Elementary Robotics develops robotics platforms to assist with automating everyday tasks.
  • Intuition Robotics uses cognitive AI to create social companion technologies.
  • Embodied develops state-of-the-art companion robots that aim to revolutionise care and wellness, enhancing quality of life for individuals and families.
  • Realtime Robotics develops a proprietary special-purpose processor that allows robotics systems to instantly react to their environments, and compute how and where to move as their situation is changing.

Sea & Air

  • Sea Machines Robotics builds autonomous control and navigation systems for the maritime industry.
  • Joby Aviation pioneers an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) passenger aircraft service – the technical name for flying taxis. 
  • SLAMcore develops visual tracking and mapping algorithms, more commonly referred to as Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping (SLAM), for ground-based and flying robots.

Autonomous

  • May Mobility offers communities a Level 4 self-driving shuttle service.
  • Apex.AI develops reliable, safe, and certified software for autonomous mobility systems.
  • Blackmore develops compact, robust Frequency-Modulated Continuous-Wave (FMCW) LiDAR sensors and supporting analytic tools and software.
  • Parallel Domain provides 3D environment generation software for autonomous vehicle simulation
  • Perceptive Automata allows autonomous systems to anticipate human reactions so they can navigate safely and smoothly around pedestrians, cyclists, and other drivers.

Smart & connected

  • Metawave seeks to revolutionise the future of wireless communications and automotive radar sensing to make cars smarter and more connected.
  • Nauto combines leading edge vehicle hardware with an artificial intelligence platform to make any car a smart car, and alerting professional drivers to potential hazards outside the vehicle or distraction inside.
  • Connected Signals is a connected vehicle data analytics company that provides predictive, real-time, traffic signal information using existing infrastructure.

Last mile & Logistics

  • Boxbot is building self driving vehicles to address the last-mile problem in logistics. Through a combination of robotics and autonomous systems, Boxbot is making deliveries much easier to receive and less expensive to manage.
  • Third Wave Automation combines the latest in deep learning research with modern robotics and software practices to bring autonomy to the supply chain and logistics industries.

With these investments, Toyota does not restrict itself to the automotive industry as it is exploring airways and marine ways as well, yet the second funding round – announced now – should explore more specifically the mission of Toyota’s future in order to ‘unbundle mobility’, which might shift the focus from car ownership to shared mobility, micromobility, ridehailing and autonomous driving.

In addition, Toyota runs a 60-acre test driving facility, and the Tokyo-based Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development (TRI-AD) works on AV technologies, while at the same time Toyota invested last month – jointly with Denso and Softbank – $1 billion in Uber’s advanced technologies group, while Toyota has its joint venture company with Softbank to explore MaaS technology. In short, the doubling of Toyota’s investment in startups is no surprise, but is a part of the OEM’s wider search for the mobility of the future. 

Authored by: Fien Van den steen