Toyota launches second Silicon Valley investment fund

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NEW YORK — Toyota Motor’s Silicon Valley-based venture capital arm has launched a second $100-million fund to invest in artificial intelligence and robotics technologies, the Japanese automaker said Thursday, in a bid to accelerate its investments in technology startups around the world.

The new fund at Toyota AI Ventures will bring the total assets under its management to more than $200 million. The venture capital unit has so far invested in technologies used for automating everyday tasks, providing social companion services, as well as developing electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles, self-driving shuttles, and autonomous maritime navigation systems.

Toyota AI Ventures was founded in 2017 as a subsidiary of Toyota Research Institute to invest in “tomorrow’s technology leaders” aimed at bridging the gap between technology startups and the emerging mobility industry, Toyota says.

“Auto manufacturers must participate in the startup ecosystem to stay ahead of the rapid shift in the auto industry,” said Jim Adler, managing director of Toyota AI Ventures. “Investing in startups creates long-term relationships that help Toyota explore the latest innovations in mobility,” he said.