Toyota Motor Corp and SoftBank Group Corp said they will team up to develop car services that rely on self-driving technology, such as hospital shuttles.
"SoftBank alone and automakers alone can't do everything," said Junichi Miyakawa, chief technology officer at SoftBank Corp who will be CEO of the new company. "We want to work to help people with limited access to transportation."
Toyota and SoftBank's new venture will start with 2 billion yen ($17.5 million) in capital, with SoftBank owning just over half of the business.
It will be called MONET, short for mobility network, and potential car services could include meal deliveries, shuttle buses as well as vehicles that offer onboard medical examinations, they said.
MONET will provide coordination between Toyota's Mobility Services Platform (MSPF), Toyota's information infrastructure for connected vehicles, and SoftBank's Internet of Things (IoT) Platform, which was built to create new value from the collection and analysis of data acquired from smartphones and sensor devices. By utilizing a wide range of different forms of data related to automotive and human mobility on both platforms, MONET is aiming to optimize supply and demand in transportation and, ultimately, to launch Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) businesses.
For the first phase, MONET plans to roll out just-in-time vehicle dispatch services for local public agencies and private companies throughout Japan. These services, which will include on-demand transportation through regional partnerships and corporate shuttles, will be provided in tune with user demand.
By the second half of the 2020s, MONET plans to roll out Autono-MaaS (autonomous mobility as a service) businesses using e-Palette, Toyota's dedicated battery electric vehicle for mobility services that can be used for various purposes, including mobility, logistics, and sales. Possibilities include demand-focused just-in-time mobility services, such as meal deliveries vehicle where food is prepared while on the move, hospital shuttles where onboard medical examinations can be performed, mobile offices, and many more. MONET also intends to roll out these businesses in Japan with an eye to future expansion on the global market.
SoftBank has its own autonomous vehicle unit, SB Drive, which has been developing self-driving technology for buses.
Honda Motor said on Wednesday it would invest $2.75 billion and take a 5.7 percent stake in General Motors's Cruise self-driving vehicle unit, in which SoftBank is also an investor.
On the same day, Daimler AG and Renault said they may expand their cooperation to batteries, self-driving vehicles and mobility services.