Uber May Sell Self-Driving Car Tech to Toyota, Report Says

The automaker has its own autonomous-car program.

Uber may be enlisting more help as it battles Waymo and other rivals for self-driving car supremacy. The ride-hailing company is reportedly preparing to sell autonomous-driving systems to other companies, including Toyota, reports Nikkei Asian Review.

The Japanese media outlet reports that Uber has discussed installing an autonomous-driving system in Toyota minivans. Encompassing a full suite of sensors, the system is designed for aftermarket installation in ordinary production vehicles, and enables full autonomy "except under emergency situations," according to Nikkei.

Toyota executive vice president Shigeki Tomoyama and Gill Pratt, head of Toyota's Silicon Valley research and development operations, reportedly met with Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi at Uber's Pittsburgh self-driving car research center to discuss a partnership, but neither company has made any public announcements on the matter.

Toyota has its own in-house self-driving car development program, but that doesn't mean a partnership with another company is out of the question. The development of autonomous cars is increasingly being defined by a web of partnerships between automakers, tech companies, and suppliers. Unlike so many other aspects of business, inter-company teamwork is the name of the game here.

Uber currently has a deal with Volvo to acquire XC90 SUVs for conversion into autonomous prototypes, but the reported Toyota deal would likely be the first instance of Uber selling its technology to another company. Uber probably doesn't plan to get into the business of making cars, so supply autonomous-driving systems to automakers could be a way to ensure that it gets the fleets of self-driving cars it wants.