Toyota has announced that it will expand its collaboration with Uber as part of efforts to develop and market autonomous ride-sharing as a mobility service at scale.

The Japanese automaker will invest US$500 million in Uber, and purpose-built Toyota vehicles will be deployed on Uber’s network with technology from both companies.

According to an official statement, the initial ‘Autono-MaaS’ (autonomous-mobility as a service) fleet will be based on the Toyota Sienna. It will feature both Uber’s autonomous driving system and the Toyota Guardian automated safety support system.

Toyota will also utilise its Mobility Services Platform (MSPF), its core information infrastructure for connected vehicles, with pilot-scale deployments set to begin on the Uber ride-sharing network in 2021.

“Uber’s automated driving system and Toyota’s Guardian system will independently monitor the vehicle environment and real-time situation, enhancing overall vehicle safety for both the automated driver and the vehicle. We look forward to this partnership accelerating both companies’ development and deployment of automated driving technology,” said Gill Pratt, Toyota Research Institute CEO and TMC Fellow.

For now, the proposed collaboration is subject to standard regulatory approvals but when approved, will aid in improving Uber’s self-driving business. A fatal accident involving a self-driving Uber vehicle in March dampened the company’s ambitions for an autonomous fleet, leading many to doubt its viability and more importantly, its safety.

During the incident, it was reported that the default safety systems on the Volvo XC90 were disabled, which could have prevented the crash. The presence of Toyota’s own safety systems in the forthcoming Uber test vehicles should provide some assurance when it comes to the safety of an autonomous ride-sharing fleet.