Toyota buys software firm Renovo to accelerate self-driving tech

Toyota Motor’s Silicon Valley research arm has acquired automotive operating system software company Renovo to accelerate the development of autonomous connected vehicles.
Toyota Motor and technology
“I am hoping to shave off years and months to our minimum viable product launches,” James Kuffner, head of Toyota’s Woven Planet subsidiary said during a press briefing.

A longer term goal is to design software and operating systems that other automakers would also use, the former Google robot engineer added.

Toyota is in a technological race with other established car companies and newer rivals, such as Tesla and Amazon, to build cars that can operate without drivers and share data within connected networks. While some driverless vehicles are already available, their autonomous functions are mostly limited to parking and driving on expressways.

Toyota deployed a fleet of driverless vehicles at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games to showcase its autonomous technology. It had to temporarily suspend operations, however, after one of them struck and injured a Paralympic athlete in an incident that Toyota chief Akio Toyoda said showed the technological challenges of autonomous vehicles.

U.S.-based Renovo has designed an operating systems for cars that manages vehicle systems and can sort and filter information for sharing, including data that can help carmakers improve vehicle design.

Woven Planet in August purchased Carmera, a U.S. firm that provides real-time, high-definition maps and data for driverless vehicles.

Toyota established Woven Planet in January to invest in and develop mobility with artificial intelligence.

Japan’s leading carmaker is also building Woven City at the foot of Mount Fuji in Japan, a community Toyota says will use hydrogen fuel cells for power and be a laboratory for autonomous cars.

Earlier this year, Toyota bought ride-hailing service Lyft’s self-driving technology unit for $550 million, and invested in Ridecell which provides automation for fleet businesses.

Other self-driving partnerships include a joint venture with SoftBank and stakes in China’s Didi Global and Singapore’s Grab.