Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development to Form $800 Million Investment Fund for Advanced Mobility

Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development to Form $800 Million Investment Fund for Advanced Mobility

Author: Eric Walz   

Toyota Motor Corp.'s Toyota Research Institute - Advanced Development, Inc. (TRI-AD) announced that it will create an $800 million global growth-stage investment fund named Woven Capital L.P. 

The new fund will invest in growth-stage companies that are developing innovative technologies and mobility related business models, including autonomous driving technology, automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, data and analytics, connectivity, and smart cities.

The fund will begin operations in January 2021.

TRI-AD said it's looking to recruit a diverse team of investment professionals for the Woven Capital fund that are committed to changing the world. TRI-AD said its committed to advancing a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive venture capital ecosystem.

In addition to sourcing deals from Toyota AI Ventures, Toyota's early-stage venture capital fund, Woven Capital will also invest in other venture capital funds in order to broaden its global coverage.

Silicon Valley-based Toyota AI Ventures is a $100 million venture capital fund  announced in May, 2019. It's dedicated to investing in startups developing new technologies such as autonomous mobility and robotics.

"Woven Capital's investments will enable us to weave together a global portfolio of partners and technologies that will deliver long-term value to our customers, stakeholders, and society.  Woven Capital will also enable us to make growth-stage investments in companies in the Toyota AI Ventures portfolio as they look to raise additional capital," said James Kuffner, CEO of TRI-AD.

TRI-AD is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. The company was founded in March 2018 for the purpose of developing innovative products to enable Toyota Motor Corp's vision of "Mobility for All."  TRI-AD's core mission is to create new technology and advanced safety systems, not just for Toyota, but for the entire world. 

Woven Capital will become a part of Toyota's new Woven Planet Holdings Group. 

TRI-AD announced the formation of the Woven Planet holding company in July, along with two new operating companies, Woven CORE and Woven Alpha. Woven Capital will be part of the organizational structure.

Woven CORE is tasked with developing and scaling "core" automated driving technologies. While Woven Alpha will explore new business opportunities and incubate projects beyond the scope of Toyota's Arene and Automated Mapping Platform. 

Both of the operating companies support the development of advanced mobility technologies by offering an open platform for developers.

Arene is an open platform developed by TRI-AD to create software programmable vehicles. It includes elements and APIs for vehicle safety, which speeds development and deployment of vehicle software. Arene allows developers and OEMs to continuously update their software in an agile way with the highest levels of safety and security.

Arene also offers simulation and testing, allowing researchers to create virtual scenarios with a variety of vehicle models with Software-In-the-Loop and Hardware-In-the-Loop Simulation (SILS and HILS).

Toyota's Automated Mapping Platform (AMP) is an open software platform that allows companies to create and distribute high-definition (HD) maps for autonomous vehicles. It provides developers access to always up to date, HD maps and also allows companies to share data on autonomous vehicles.

In March, TRI-AD announced it successfully completed a proof of concepts ("PoC") for creating HD maps using satellite images with a relative accuracy of less than 50 centimeters, which is enough accuracy to support autonomous driving.

TRI-AD also oversees Toyota's futuristic Woven City announced in Jan 2020 at CES. 

Woven City will be an actual city spanning 175 acres and is being constructed near the base of Mt Fuji in Japan. The city will serve as a living laboratory for researchers, scientists and partners from around the world who will live there full-time and develop future technologies.

Toyota president Akio Toyoda said Woven City will serve as an incubator for smart city design, autonomous vehicles, connected mobility, and robotics technology. Within the city, Toyota and its partners can test their technology and incorporate it into daily life. 

The Woven City is being designed by renowned Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, designer of some of the world's most famous buildings. 

"With diverse projects such as Arene, the Automated Mapping Platform, and Woven City, the Woven Planet Holdings Group has set ambitious goals for itself, and we will need a variety of partners and technologies to achieve those goals," said James Kuffner, CEO of TRI-AD.

TRI-AD also set a website where people can apply for open roles.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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