Toyota and Softbank team up on ride-sharing, driverless tech unit

Emily Nicolle
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Soon-to-be Monet CEO Junichi Miyakawa presented the concept this morning (Source: Getty)

Toyota and Softbank have unveiled a partnership that will see the two companies collaborate on transport services that utilise self-driving technology.

Named Monet, a play on the longer term Mobility Network, the new venture will be initially funded at ¥2bn (£13.5m), with Softbank taking a stake of just over half of the business.

“SoftBank alone and automakers alone can’t do everything,” said Junichi Miyakawa, Softbank's chief technology officer who will now become Monet's chief executive. “We want to work to help people with limited access to transportation.”

The two companies have separately led major investments into the self-driving space, with Softbank's Vision Fund plugging $2.25bn (£1.74bn) in GM Cruise's driverless car unit, and Toyota providing a $500m investment into Uber's tech exploration.

Read more: Toyota invests $500m in Uber to propel self-driving cars into reality

Potential car services highlighted by the two businesses include food delivery, shuttle buses and onboard medical examinations to reduce pressure on hospitals.

Toyota has been developing a self-driving shuttle bus service called e-Palette which could be used as pay-per-use hotels or restaurants, with Amazon, Didi, Uber and Pizza Hut featuring as early partners in the project.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are a future goal for e-Palette, which Toyota said could be used to ship around athletes and guests. Meanwhile Softbank has its own self-driving unit, SB Drive.

“We are trying to take traditional car making into new fields,” Toyota president Akio Toyoda told reporters at a press conference early this morning. “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 broader scale, Monet is set to go live with e-Palette by the second half of the 2020s.