Japanese giants Toyota and Softbank have partnered to create new services for autonomous cars, including on-demand meal deliveries, medical, services, and logistics.
The automobile maker and the tech company will form a joint venture, dubbed MONET, before April next year that will focus on safer mobility services and use Toyota’s e-Pallette vehicle.
The venture will combine Toyota’s connected vehicles platform and vehicle data with Softbank’s IoT platform that’s used for the analysis of data from smartphones and sensors.
“By utilising a wide range of different forms of data related to automotive and human mobility on both platforms, MONET is aiming to optimise supply and demand in transportation and, ultimately, to launch mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) businesses capable of resolving social mobility issues and creating new value,” said Toyota.
With MONET, the companies plan to initially roll out vehicle dispatch services for public agencies and private companies throughout Japan, such as corporate shuttles.
MONET will then look to roll out autonomous mobility-as-a-service businesses using its e-Palette electric vehicle, such as a meal deliveries vehicle in which food is prepared on the move, hospital shuttles where medical examinations can be performed, and mobile offices.
Toyota said these services will be rolled out to Japan first, with an eye to expand to the global market. MONET has an initial investment of 2 billion yen, which will be ramped up to 10 billion yen in the future.
Softbank will own just over half of shares in the venture (50.25 percent), with Toyota taking the remaining 49.75 percent.
Toyota Softbank: “Indispensable” Partnership
e-Pallette was revealed earlier this year as a means to tap into autonomous delivery. Launch partners for the e-Pallette included Amazon, DiDi, and Pizza Hut, suggesting a range of delivery goods and services that the vehicle will be used to deliver.
Toyota also partnered with Uber in August to develop self-driving vehicle technologies, including the integration of Toyota’s automated safety support system, dubbed Guardian, on Uber’s on-demand network from 2021.
President of Toyota Akio Toyoda said at the partnership’s launch event that “friends and allies will be increasingly important in building the mobility society of the future”.
The company will do this, he said, by actively selling competitive products to companies inside and outside the company, and continuing to strengthen ties with partners such as Uber and Grab.
“When we were a company that focused only on manufacturing cars, we were unable to work together with Softbank. Twenty years on, as we aim to become a mobility company, this partnership is indispensable.
“We see Softbank’s strengths as its ability to judge based on foresight and their expertise in reading the seeds of the future.”