The venture capital arm of Toyota, Toyota AI Ventures, has begun boosting its investments into self-driving vehicle tech startups, the head of the division has revealed.
The reason for boosting investments into startups operating in the sector is mostly due to the need to get a better view on what’s happening in the fast growing field, reportedly, and on the new technologies and techniques which are emerging.
The potential is there, the head of Toyota AI Ventures was quoted as saying, for the auto industry to be “disrupted” to a substantial degree.
“Part of our mission is to understand where innovation is happening, tap into disruption in the market and acquire firsthand knowledge of those disruptive signals,” explained managing director Jim Adler.
With regard to the new investments, the firm is co-leading an $11.5 million seed-round investment into May Mobility — a startup working on self-driving shuttles for college campuses — amongst other things.
Reuters provides more: “Based in Los Altos in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley, Toyota AI Ventures, the automaker’s corporate venture arm, is less than a year old. With a budget of $100 million, the company now has disclosed investments in seven early-stage startups, from Boston to London to Tel Aviv. The common thread is advanced technology — notably artificial intelligence, robotics and big data — that is expected to power self-driving cars and on-demand ride sharing fleets.”
In an interview with Reuters, Adler noted that “the auto industry is under siege” and that big changes were coming.
Why then isn’t Toyota moving faster to institute changes, you ask? Well, if you hear Adler tell it, then the largest auto manufacturers out there (Toyota included) “could be more fragile and more at risk” than may be supposed without adaptation — meaning that Toyota will presumably be moving faster over the coming years than over the past few.
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