Toyota and SoftBank Want Self-Driving Cars to Change the World

Toyota and SoftBank want the transportation world to be changed through autonomous vehicles as well as other technologies.

The two high-profile Japanese based companies have formed a new joint venture known as Monet to develop their businesses that will utilize self-driving technology to offer new and different services such as delivery vehicles that has food prepared while en route and mobile convenience stores.

SoftBank will have a stake over just more than half of Monet and Toyota the rest.

The company’s name is not a reference to French painter Claude Monet, but a shortened version of “mobility network.”

President of Toyota Akio Toyoda and CEO of SoftBank Masayoshi Son were in attendance at the announcement of the venture on Thursday in Tokyo, which was a rare appearance for the leaders of two of the largest global companies in Japan.

Toyota approached SoftBank with an idea of making an alliance to catch up with worldwide rivals that have been developing autonomous driving technology.

Across the globe, top automakers and tech companies such as Alphabet and Baidu are sinking large sums of money into driverless vehicles.

Self-driving vehicles hold a potential to cause much disruption in the world’s auto industry and likely will transform the world’s ride-hailing business.

Son, the billionaire founder of SoftBank, oversees a sprawling empire that includes internet businesses, artificial intelligence companies and ride-hailing startups, which are able to collect large sums of data on different traffic patterns, requests by passengers and other trends in transportation.

The new joint venture will tap into the advantages of SoftBank in data and tech and the expertise in vehicles manufacturing of Toyota. It goals include developing ways in which to tackle the problems created by the rapidly aging Japanese society and its shrinking workforce.

Over the next ten years, Monet is planning to roll out new services such as self-driving buses that are able to drive elderly passengers to supermarkets, hospital shuttles that offer onboard exams and mobile offices. The focus will be initially in Japan but with the thought of expanding worldwide.

Softbank already has put large sums of money into self-driving vehicles when its Vision Fund that is tech-focused committed $2.3 billion to GM Cruise the General Motors unit for self-driving cars.

Another top company in Japan, automaker Honda announced on Wednesday it would invest over $2.8 million in the GM Cruise.

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