NTT partners with Toyota and US startup on driverless vehicles

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Japan’s leading telco, NTT, has announced plans to conduct tests on driverless vehicles in collaboration with Toyota and invest in US-based startup May Mobility.

A spokesperson for NTT has revealed the company aims to commence trials with autonomous buses and taxis as early as 2025. The company is set to invest approximately 10 billion yen ($66.91 million) in May Mobility.

While the Nikkei newspaper initially reported joint vehicle development between NTT and Toyota, both companies denied any such plans. However, NTT’s strategic investment in May Mobility aligns with the company’s commitment to advancing self-driving systems.

May Mobility, a Michigan-based startup, has attracted investments from Japanese entities previously. Tokyo-based insurance holding firm Tokio Marine participated in a $111 million funding round last year.

This move by NTT follows a trend in the Japanese automotive industry, with Honda announcing plans in October to establish a joint venture with General Motors and its robotaxi firm Cruise. Honda aims to launch a driverless ride service in Japan by early 2026.

Despite the growing momentum, the autonomous driving sector faces challenges, as evidenced by Cruise’s suspension of driverless vehicle operations in the US following a regulatory order prompted by an accident.

With collaborations between telecom giants, automakers, and innovative startups, Japan is gearing up for a future where self-driving vehicles become a norm rather than an exception.

(Photo by Chandler Cruttenden on Unsplash)

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