When Toyota launches its own self-driving cars, it’ll do it with a little help from the feds
The Detroit auto maker announced it will make its own autonomous vehicles by 2019.
It will work with partners like Google, GM, and Ford to create the cars.
The company, which is also working on its own fleet of autonomous vehicles, is hoping to cut down on the time it takes for its vehicles to go through rigorous safety checks and the risk of accidents.
Toyota’s CEO is optimistic about the future, and said he expects the company’s self-drive vehicles will become more common by 2019, when the first vehicles will be on the roads.
“The first cars will be self-parking, which will make the cars less expensive, more convenient and safer to drive, and, of course, much more fun,” CEO Akio Toyoda told reporters during a media event in Detroit on Tuesday.
Toyota’s announcement comes a month after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) began its investigation into Toyota’s autonomous vehicle business.
In a letter, the FTC said Toyota “does not have a formal plan for commercialization of its autonomous vehicles,” and that the company does not have “sufficient information or understanding of the potential risks of commercializing self-driven vehicles.”
The FTC’s letter, dated December 23, 2017, also said the company has not “published, publicly disclosed, and provided to the Commission the information needed to prepare a report that could lead to an enforcement action or other enforcement action.”
The agency also questioned whether the company “has been prepared to demonstrate that its autonomous vehicle will be fully safe, reliable, and effective for the public.”
The automaker did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.
Toyoda said that the government will likely ask the FTC to launch an investigation, but he said that it would take a long time for the agency to decide on whether to do so.
“I’m not worried about the FTC’s response,” Toyoda said.
“They’ve done a good job, but they’re going to do their job.”
The Ford announcement is particularly important, as it comes on the heels of the launch of its own vehicle program, which was originally designed to replace a self-made autonomous vehicle that was purchased by the company from Google.
Ford has said that its self-truck program will be similar to the Toyota’s in terms of technology, but that it will be cheaper, more reliable, more environmentally friendly, and will also have lower fuel consumption.
“Our self-focusing autonomous vehicles are being tested at an even higher level of safety, efficiency and capability,” Ford CEO Mark Fields said during the company and the Ford Fusion announcement in Detroit.
“Ford will continue to use technology to build the world’s most sustainable, safest, most affordable self-powered transportation.”
The Toyota announcement came days after Tesla announced that it has teamed up with Ford to develop its own car-sharing service.
Tesla said that Tesla and Ford will use the two companies’ autonomous vehicle technologies to help them build their own fleet.