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Toyota Motor to buy Lyft for $550 million

Toyota Motor will acquire Lyft Inc’s self-driving technology unit for $550 million, the companies said, as the Japanese automakers boost its presence in the autonomous world with the newly created Woven Planet division.

The acquisition of Level 5 automation will also provide the automaker access to the U.S. ride-hailing firm’s 300 workers of the essentially complete autonomy technology.

“This is the first step of establishing and bringing together the people. Obviously building technology and product requires people, and that’s much what this acquisition is about,” Woven Planet chief executive James Kuffner told reporters on Tuesday.

For Lyft, the deal will enable it to become even more profitable sooner and takes away the burden and risk of developing a costly technology that is still far from becoming mainstream anytime soon.

Kuffner said Woven Planet, which was set up in January, intends to keep increasing the investment and grow the team, although he refrained from discussing about any timeline or future acquisition plans.

Toyota, which presently offers Level 2 automation with advanced driver assistance technology, has other self-driving projects including a joint venture with SoftBank, and is forming a consortium with General Motors, suppliers, and semiconductor companies.

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