TOKYO -- Toyota Motor Corp.'s first venture capital fund is investing in startups that help the Japanese automaker refine everyday processes by bringing sharper supply-chain management and robotics to the factory floor, a fund executive said.
The Silicon Valley-based Toyota AI Ventures fund, with $200 million under management, has so far invested in 36 early-stage startups, including self-driving car software firm Nauto, factory video analytics company Drishti and air mobility firm Joby Aviation.
Toyota, the world's largest automaker by vehicle sales, and many car companies such as Volkswagen Group are funnelling money into startups to help gain an edge in artificial intelligence as investor interest shifts to self-driving cars.
For instance Toyota, which has dozens of factories around the world, wants to be able to quickly share the lessons learned at one plant across other plants so that efficiencies are maximized, Jim Adler, the founding managing director of the fund, told Reuters in an interview.
"If you look at cloud computing, for example, and cloud robotics, and fleet learning, when one robot learns something, the rest of the robots automatically learn that thing," he said.