Softbank and Toyota have revealed a partnership that will see the collaboration of the two firms on transport services that will utilise self-driving technology.
The collaboration is named Monet. It is a play on the longer term Mobility Network. The new venture will initially be funded at ¥2 billion (£13.5 million). Softbank will be taking a stake of just over half of the business.
The chief technology officer of Softbank, Junichi Miyakawa, who will now serve as the chief executive officer of Monet. He stated: “SoftBank alone and automakers alone can’t do everything.”
He added: “We want to work to help people with limited access to transportation.”
Both firms have led major investments into the self-driving industry separately. The Vision Fund of Softbank plugged $2.25 billion (£1.74 billion) in the driverless car unit of GM Cruise, while Toyota provided a $500 million investment into the tech exploration of Uber.
The possible car services that were highlighted by the two firms include shuttle buses, food delivery, and even onboard medical examinations that aims to reduce the pressure on hospitals.
Toyota has been in the process of developing a self-driving shuttle bus service that is called e-Palette. The service could be used as pay-per-use restaurants or hotels, with Didi, Amazon, Pizza Hut, and Uber featured as early partners in the said project.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics have also been included as a future goal for e-Palette. Toyota said that it could be used to ship around guests and athletes. Meanwhile, Softbank has SB Drive, its own self-driving unit.
During a press conference that was held early this morning, Akio Toyoda, the president of Toyota, stated: “We are trying to take traditional car making into new fields.”
He added: “We realised that Softbank shares the same vision when it comes to the future of cars, so it’s time that we partner together.”
On a wider scale, Monet is scheduled to go live with e-Palette by the second half of the 2020s.