Yahoo! Japan leads funding round for self-driving vehicle joint venture SB Drive

SB Drive, an autonomous vehicle joint venture between SoftBank Corp and Advanced Smart Mobility, has secured JPY 510 million (about $4.6 million) in funding. Yahoo! Japan was the lead investor providing JPY 490 million (approximately $4.4 million) while SoftBank provided about JPY 190 million (about $1.7 million). As a a result of the funding, SoftBank has a 51.1 percent stake in SB Drive, Yahoo! JAPAN has a 48.6 percent stake and Advanced Smart Mobility holds a 0.3 percent stake.

PRESS RELEASE

Yahoo Japan Corporation (“Yahoo! JAPAN”) and SoftBank Corp. (“SoftBank”), a subsidiary of SoftBank Group Corp., today announced that SB Drive Corp. (“SB Drive”), a company aiming to commercialize smart mobility services by utilizing self-driving technologies, received a capital increase through a third-party allocation of shares, with Yahoo! JAPAN making a new investment and SoftBank making an additional investment.

SB Drive was established in April 2016 as a joint venture between SoftBank and Advanced Smart Mobility Co., Ltd. (“Advanced Smart Mobility”), a company researching and developing automated driving technologies. Under a cooperative framework with SoftBank, Advanced Smart Mobility, Yahoo! JAPAN and others, SB Drive has been conducting social trials and testing the commercial viability of fixed-route bus type community public transportation and large truck convoy-based trunk line freight transportation systems that utilize self-driving technologies. Currently SB Drive has smart mobility partnership agreements with four municipalities in Japan, including Kitakyushu City and Yazu Town in Tottori Prefecture. In the latter half of fiscal 2018, SB Drive is planning to conduct fully autonomous driving trials on public roads.

Yahoo! JAPAN’s investment in SB Drive marks its full-fledged entry into the self-driving sector. By linking self-driving with it regional and transportation services like Yahoo! Maps and by utilizing big data from self-driving and Yahoo! JAPAN service users, Yahoo! JAPAN will pursue its “UPDATE MOBILITY” goal that aims to address the regional and transport issues of customers.