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Toyota, BMW sharing data with startup to improve autonomous driving

The pair will license Nauto's tech, which uses aggregated data to improve self-driving car systems.


A number of automakers have set up venture firms that seek to invest in fledgling companies. Two of those companies, backed by Toyota and BMW, are now throwing money behind Nauto, a startup that wants to use driver data to improve autonomous vehicle systems.

BMW i Ventures and the Toyota Research Institute have partnered with Allianz Ventures to license technology from big-data startup Nauto, Reuters reports. Each party will gain an equity stake, although specific terms of the deal were not given out. Another unnamed automaker is also involved in this deal.

Nauto's data-collection system currently consists of a small box, containing a camera and computer, which attaches to a car's windshield. It detects human habits behind the wheel, such as texting, and it also collects data on traffic and how the vehicle navigates complicated roadways.

The data is anonymized and aggregated, so the efforts of all automakers involved will be used for the benefit of all, as well. In the future, Nauto wants to integrate its system directly into vehicles, with all that data heading to the cloud for continual vehicle improvement. And when it comes to programming a car that should navigate roadways flawlessly, more data never hurts.

BMW and Toyota are no strangers to working together. The two automakers jumped in together on lithium ion battery development back in 2012, and the pair are also said to be developing a single shared successor to two different vehicles, the BMW Z4 and Toyota Supra. A rising tide lifts all ships, and if two automakers can get that tide to rise even faster, the benefits aren't exclusive to a single automaker.