Toyota has bought the self-driving vehicle division of ride-hailing company Lyft in a deal worth $550 million (£395m).
The purchase has come from Toyota’s new technology investment arm called Woven Planet Holdings, marking its first major investment since being established in January.
The company said the deal would bring together ‘world class scientists and software engineers’ from Lyft with researchers from Toyota, creating a ‘dream team’ of about 1,200 staff that will make up ‘one of the most diverse, well resourced and talented groups in this field’.
As well as buying Level 5, Lyft and Woven Planet have signed commercial agreements to use Lyft systems and fleet data to accelerate the development of self-driving technology.
Lyft will receive $550m (£395m) in total, with $200m (£144m) up front and the rest paid in instalments over five years.
James Kuffner, CEO of Woven Planet, said: “This acquisition advances our mission to develop the safest mobility in the world at scale.
“Bringing Level 5’s world-class engineers and experts into the fold — as well as additional technology resources — will allow us to have even greater speed and impact.”
Logan Green, CEO of Lyft, said: “Today’s announcement launches Lyft into the next phase of an incredible journey to bring our mission to life. Lyft has spent nine years building a transportation network that is uniquely capable of scaling autonomous vehicles. This deal brings together the vision, talent, resources and commitment to advance clean, autonomous mobility on a global scale.”
Woven Planet was started to expand on the operations of the Toyota Research Institute. It has four divisions, called Woven Planet Holdings, Woven Core, Woven Alpha and Woven Capital, with the goal to invest in automated driving, robotics, smart cities and more.
Lyft was founded in 2012 and has become one of the biggest ride-hailing apps in the US and Canada, behind Uber.