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Toyota will invest billions in new self-driving car company

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Toyota (File/CNN)

Toyota is stepping on the gas to develop a commercially viable autonomous car.

The Japanese automaker announced Friday it is joining forces with two of its suppliers to form a new company dedicated to the research and development of self-driving vehicles.

The Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development plans to invest 300 billion yen ($2.8 billion), with the main goal of developing “production-quality software” for automated driving.

Toyota will own 90% of the company.

It will start off with 300 employees, eventually rising to 1,000.

“This company’s mission is to accelerate software development in a more effective and disruptive way,” James Kuffner, CEO of the new company said in a statement.

Developing reliable software for the futuristic cars remains a key technological hurdle, as evidenced by the messy trade secrets lawsuit waged between Google’s self-driving venture Waymo and ride hailing start-up Uber.

Toyota is just the latest major carmaker to pour big money into self-driving technology.

Volkswagen and Hyundai both recently struck deals with Silicon Valley startup Aurora Innovation to develop autonomous vehicles. General Motors has also said it will mass produce fully autonomous electric cars by the end of 2019.

They are all battling big tech companies in the race to be king of the computer-driven road.

Google has poured more than $1 billion into Waymo, and ride hailing start-ups Lyft and Uber are also heavily invested in autonomous cars.