Toyota announced Friday that it is creating a new company devoted to researching and developing self-driving vehicles and the software that makes them run.
The Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development (or TRI-AD) is a $2.8 billion joint venture with two of its suppliers that will focus specifically on developing “fully-integrated, production-quality software” for automated driving.
"This company's mission is to accelerate software development in a more effective and disruptive way," James Kuffner, CEO of the new company said in a statement.
The company will have 300 employees to start, with plans to eventually expand to 1,000 employees. Toyota says it will recruit from its own personnel and look for outside talent to fill positions.
"Building production-quality software is a critical success factor for Toyota's automated driving program,” Kuffner said.
“This company's mission is to accelerate software development in a more effective and disruptive way, by augmenting the Toyota Group's capability through the hiring of world-class software engineers. We will recruit globally, and I am thrilled to lead this effort."
Developing reliable software
Experts say autonomous vehicles operated by ride-hailing companies will almost certainly become a reality, which may ultimately lead to a drop in car ownership.
Competition for supremacy in the self-driving technology market has led to a number of battles, including a messy trade secrets lawsuit between Google’s self-driving venture Waymo and ride-hailing startup Uber.
The Toyota Research Institute (TRI) has been developing the company’s own self-driving technology for years and even unveiled its LIDAR sensor-equipped “Platform 3.0” version of its autonomous driving system at CES earlier this year.
Level 3 autonomy requires a backup driver to sit behind the wheel, but Toyota’s new company will likely push it closer to the development of a vehicle capable of fully-automated driving.