Toyota’s autonomous division just bought the company that made a self-driving DeLorean do donuts
Woven Planet Holdings, a subsidiary of Toyota, acquired Renovo Motors, a startup that makes operating systems for autonomous vehicles. It’s the latest acquisition that aims to accelerate Toyota’s mission to develop autonomous vehicles with connected software. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Toyota established Woven Planet in January 2021 to invest in and develop mobility with artificial intelligence. Since then, the company has been on a shopping spree, acquiring Carmera, a firm that provides real-time, high-definition maps and data for driverless vehicles, and Lyft’s Level 5 autonomous vehicle division.
Renovo, which is based in Silicon Valley, makes operating systems that integrate all the software needed to run fleets of autonomous vehicles. Founded by Chris Heiser and Jason Stinson in 2010, Renovo has been involved in a number of interesting automotive projects over the years. There was the Renovo Coupe, a $529,000 electric supercar with 1,000 pound-feet of torque and a 0–60 time of 3.4 seconds, or its project to convert a DeLorean with an electric powertrain and then do autonomous donuts with it.
More recently, Renovo built an AV system that monitors not only driver attention but also passenger and pedestrian facial expressions for a better understanding of their emotions inside and outside the vehicle. The company worked with an AI startup called Affectiva to integrate this technology into its fleet of test vehicles.
Renovo aspired to be the Amazon Web Services of self-driving cars. Its operating system, called AWare, enables autonomous vehicles to handle enormous amounts of sensor data. Renovo has also worked with Samsung to help test, develop, and deploy the smartphone giant’s self-driving cars.
“This is a really, really big day for us,” Heiser wrote in a blog post announcing the acquisition by Toyota. “When Jason Stinson and I co-founded Renovo in 2010, we dreamed of a world where cars would be defined by their software platforms and, in doing so, unlock a world of new experiences and re-define the very nature of transportation. It is a vision that requires a complete re-think of the car to its core. This dream, in powerful alignment with Woven Planet’s vision and mission, now takes an even bigger step towards reality.”