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Five automakers back Toyota's and Softbank's self-driving business

Monet is getting more money to spend on its self-driving ambitions.
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Tech companies and automakers have been setting differences aside and merging forces in hopes of getting themselves a piece of the self-driving pie as early as possible. Late last year, Toyota and Softbank teamed up to establish a joint venture called Monet. Now, their partnership is getting a boost from five new allies: Japanese automakers Isuzu, Suzuki, Subaru, Daihatsu (Toyota's compact car division) and Mazda. The companies are joining Honda and Hino Motors, other automakers that also chose to back the project.

The five automakers are investing 57.10 million yen ($530,620) each into the venture in return for a 2 percent stake. That means Monet now has $26.6 million in capital, which it will use to develop on-demand self-driving shuttle services in Japan. Monet's ultimate goal is to roll out a variety of services based on Toyota's e-Palette electric vehicle, though. Businesses could use e-Palette for meal deliveries, as mobile hotels or even as mobile offices. According to Reuters, services that use the e-Palette could roll out by 2023 -- we'll most likely see the actual vehicle, which is still just a concept, before that happens.

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