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Raquel Urtasun, chief scientist at Uber Advanced Technologies Group (ATG), speaks at a Reuters Newsmaker event in New York City, U.S., April 8.

EDUARDO MUNOZ/Reuters

Japan’s top automaker Toyota, auto parts maker Denso and internet company SoftBank’s investment fund are investing US$1-billion in car-sharing Uber’s technology unit.

The Japanese companies said Friday that Toyota Motor Corp. and Denso Corp. will together invest US$667-million and SoftBank Corp.’s Vision Fund will contribute $333-million in Uber Technologies Inc.’s new entity, Advanced Technologies Group, or Uber ATG, which will try to develop and commercialize automated ride-sharing services.

The move comes as Toyota steps up such efforts, including investing US$500-million in Uber, based in San Francisco, and setting up a US$20-million joint venture with SoftBank to create mobility services, both announced last year.

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Toyota also promised to contribute up to US$300-million more over the next three years for developing next-generation autonomous vehicles and services.

Toyota executive vice-president Shigeki Tomoyama said working together will help bring down costs and speed up development.

Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi expressed hope that the deal, set to close by the third quarter of this year, will help maintain Uber’s leading position in the technology.

“The development of automated driving technology will transform transportation as we know it, making our streets safer and our cities more livable,” he said.

SoftBank has invested in Didi and Grab, as well as Uber, and has acquired IoT leader Arm, while Toyota is developing autonomous vehicles in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Auto makers around the world are forming tie-ups to develop next-generation transportation. Google’s Waymo and U.S. electric-car maker Tesla are also big players in the effort.

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