Toyota acquires US map and driverless data provider Carmera

On Thursday Toyota Motor Corp’s research arm said, it had acquired US based map and driverless vehicles data provider Carmera.

The acquisition underscores Toyota’s push to bulk up its self-driving arsenal as traditional automakers compete with tech giants in the emerging autonomous vehicles sector.

The acquisition will provide Toyota access to real-time, high-definition maps and crowdsourced inputs that are essential for autonomous vehicles to locate and navigate themselves.

Since 2018 both companies have partnered on projects including technology that updates repainted lane markings on high-definition maps with accuracy.

“It’s very well aligned with our expansion globally as a company,” said Woven Planet chief executive James Kuffner.

Woven Planet was established earlier this year in January to invest in and develop mobility with artificial intelligence. It is building a prototype “city of the future” called Woven City at the base of Mount Fuji, powered by hydrogen fuel cells that would be a laboratory for autonomous cars.

Following the acquisition, Woven Planet would look to develop and sell an open map platform to original equipment manufacturers and automakers who wanted accurate and fresh data, said Kuffner.

“With Carmera, we’re just accelerating. We’ll continue to accelerate … and look for strategic partnerships or acquisitions,” said Kuffner while adding he wanted to “double or quadruple” the size of Woven Planet in the next couple of years via organic growth and acquisitions.

Earlier this year, Toyota acquired Lyft Inc’s self-driving technology unit for $550 million, and invested in Ridecell that provides automation for fleet businesses. 

“There’s so much uncertainty in the automotive space right now, but the only thing that I am sure of is that it will look very different in 10 or 30 years. The only thing we can do is to try to create the future by investment … take the profits from Toyota’s existing business and invest it in the future, to create the future of the Toyota Group,” said Kuffner.

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