Toyota Motor’s software and technology division will undertake ambitious hiring and acquisitions as automakers compete for pole position in a race to develop their own smart cars one day.
“The next few years,” said James Cuffe, CEO of Woven Planet Holdings, the unit that leads the world’s largest automakers throughout an era where the line between technology and the car is becoming increasingly blurry.
“That means organic and inorganic employment, and if that makes sense, it means a strategic takeover,” Kafner said Wednesday. “We need more people to carry out our mission faster, so I’m always looking for ways to attract, partner and recruit talented people in the field.”
The acquisition is already rapid. Woven Planet announced on Thursday that it plans to acquire Carmera Inc., a US company specializing in self-driving car mapping. This is the latest in a series of transactions in autonomous mobile spaces since the company was founded earlier this year. In April, Woven Planet spent $ 550 million on the acquisition of Lyft Inc.’s autonomous driving division.
With the large amount of spending needed to achieve autonomous driving, industry experts anticipate an imminent wave of integration. In recent years, the excitement of the concept has replaced the perception of immeasurable challenges, reducing the initiative of many self-driving cars.
Kafner said this is a “great opportunity” for Tokyo-based Woven Planet to recruit workers who are proficient in the technology and software they need. Toyota’s profits could almost bear the weight of the pandemic, and Woven Planet was able to continue its strategic investment.
“There are additions to the ongoing Woven Planet family,” he said.
Carmera, which creates a high-resolution roadmap based on data collected from dashcams, is one such purchase. Both companies did not disclose the acquisition price.
Like sensors, maps are an important part of autonomous driving, helping cars navigate lanes, adjust speed, and respond to traffic lights on their own. Woven Planet’s solution aims to update road information, such as lane markings, signs, and traffic lights, which is one of the most difficult elements of mapping, in near real time. It requires a large number of cars to constantly collect data.
Within the next decade, Kafner said he hopes that all new Toyota vehicles, about 10 million vehicles a year, will be optimized to begin contributing to this vast mapping network. The Japanese car maker Fleet tracks road changes and uploads that data to a central mapping server. Eventually, this solution will be available to people other than Toyota.
Today, Kafner says the world is “not close” to putting a completely self-driving car on the market, but some self-driving cars operate under certain limited conditions. I am. One is Toyota’s e-Palette, an autonomous shuttle used to ferry athletes around the Olympic Village.
“We’re actually seeing short-term products from this core technology,” said Kafner in connection with Woven Planet’s mapping capabilities. “Then, as we build on it, some of these other distant applications will become practical.”
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