Uber’s CEO, Dara Khosroshahi, recently announced on Twitter that Japanese conglomerates funded Uber’s autonomous division, Uber Advanced Technologies Group (UberATG) $1 billion.
The Japanese companies who invested are the telecom conglomerate Softbank’s Vision Fund, car manufacturer Toyota and automotive part suppler Denso. Toyota and Denso contributed $667 million collectively, with Softbank’s Vision Fund contributing $333 million.
The accompanying press release notes that Uber’s self-driving unit is currently valued at $7.25 billion.
As Uber has announced going public later this year, that figure is significant to potential investors. Uber’s Initial Public Offering (IPO) is expected to raise roughly $10 billion for the ride company and would push the company toward a $100 billion valuation.
Recent investments are not surprising to anyone who has been watching Uber’s self-driving division growth. In 2018, Uber also received $500 million from Toyota, specifically to accelerate self-driving tech efforts.
One such effort included a retrofitted fleet of Toyota Siennas to road test Uber’s autonomous technology before hopeful deployment as early as 2021.
As said by Khosrowshahi, “This investment and our strong partnership with the Toyota Group are a testament to the incredible work of our ATG team, and the exciting future ahead for this important project, alongside great partners.”
The funding is a vote of confidence in UberATG tech from the Japanese automotive industry, after a few unfortunate instances in UberATG development in the last year.
For example, last year an Uber self-driving car hit a woman who later died, forcing the company to end testing in Tempe, Arizona. The company also had a legal complication with self-driving competitor Waymo, which was settled out of court.
The recent $1 billion in funding is a huge step forward for UberATG.
As noted by Khosrowshahi, “The development of automated driving technology will transform transportation as we know it” and the funding “will help maintain Uber’s position at the forefront of that transformation.”