Following the creation of Tesla, the “software-defined car”, and Volkswagen, which set up an independent software development division, Toyota announced on July 28th the formal establishment of a new holding subsidiary focused on developing software businesses such as autonomous driving, new car operating systems and high-definition maps.
Toyota, a controlling subsidiary of Woven Planet Holdings, will operate two of its other subsidiaries, Woven Core Inc. and Woven Alpha Inc. The former will focus on expanding core self-driving technology (restructuring the previously established Toyota Institute-Senior Development Company “TRI-AD”), while the latter will explore new business opportunities to create businesses in areas such as in-vehicle software and high-definition maps. The controlling subsidiary is more focused on a more flexible “software first” development process and software definition architecture.
The new company is scheduled to start operations in January 2021 with a start-up capital of 20 billion yen (about 1,332 million yuan). James Kuffner, who is now chief executive of TRI-AD, will lead the three companies. Kuffner was appointed to Toyota’s board of directors in June 2020 after working on robotics and self-driving cars at Google and joining the company in 2016.
Toyota TRI-AD was founded in Tokyo, Japan, in March 2018 with a joint investment of US$2.8 billion (RMB19.6 billion) by Aishem Seide and Denso Electric. Toyota’s goal at the time was to ensure that its systems for writing self-driving car software were as efficient as the factories that make cars.
The new company will launch a new open automotive operating system, Arene, for the future of “programmable cars”. In addition, the new company will work with partners on the map platform, an open software system that allows the creation of high-precision maps required for autonomous driving.
Woven Core will continue to develop self-driving technologies, such as teammate system, the first of its kind on the new Lexus LS, a lidar-based L2-class autopilot that automatically changes lanes and oversteed on highways. In addition, Toyota has introduced the all-electric fully autonomous driving concept e-Palette, which offers significant advantages such as modularity and expansion, and is the ideal solution for mobile travel services.
Toyota said it would stop using the TRI-AD name when the new company is officially operational. The initial target for the new company is 1,000 people. At the same time, more employees will continue to be expanded, but no new figures have been given.