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Toyota Kirloskar Motor Vice Chairman Vikram S Kirloskar, Managing Director Akito Tachibana, Director and Senior Vice President N Raja during the launch of Innova Crysta in Bengaluru on May 13, 2016.IANS

Japanese car making company Toyota has announced that it will invest $500 million and expand its association to jointly develop the driverless car. The two firms will also involve in the "mass-production" of autonomous vehicles that would be deployed on Uber's ridesharing network.

The move is seen as an attempt to catch up with their rivals in the stiff self-driving car market. Interestingly, the deal has valued Uber at $72 billion despite its mounting debts. The current valuation is up by 15 per cent since last investment in the month of May.

Both the companies informed it will integrate the self-driving technology from each company into purpose-built Toyota vehicles. The pilot trails are expected to begin by 2021 and the fleet will be based on Toyota's Sienna Minivan model.

"This agreement and investment marks an important milestone in our transformation to a mobility company as we help provide a path for safe and secure expansion of mobility services like ride-sharing," Shigeki Tomoyama, the executive vice president of Toyota Motor Corporation.

UBER taxi
Reuters File

The two companies seem to have missed the bus when it comes to developing self-driving cars with Waymo, owned by Alphabet, steaming ahead. It is to be noted that the self-driving trails of Uber took a back seat after a fatal crash. In March, a self-driving Uber SUV had killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona.

Since then the taxi aggregator has removed its driverless cars from the roads and shut down its Arizona operation. Uber's driverless car is in dire need of an external help and the deal made with Toyota will provide them with the expertise.

However, Uber Technologies Inc. has said that it will continue to invest in India which is its most important market outside the United States. The CEO recently said that it will focus on expanding their business rather than focus on cutting the company's massive losses in the world's fastest-growing major economy.