The global trend towards the development of autonomous vehicles has been gathering pace this year, but a new partnership between Toyota and tech giant SoftBank might go even further with an advanced range of in-car mobility services.

These could include meal deliveries where food is prepared while on the move, hospital shuttles that perform onboard medical examinations, mobile offices, as well as ride-sharing.

The two Japanese companies laid out this vision in a statement last week as they announced plans to establish a joint venture, Monet Technologies, which is expected to be running by April 2019.

Although the new company will start with a modest capital investment of $17m, Toyota and SoftBank expressed confidence that these demand-focused, just-in-time, mobility services could be rolled out by the year 2030 via Toyota’s self-driving, electric vehicle called e-Palette.

In the meantime, Monet plans to roll out just-in-time, on-demand dispatch services for Japanese public agencies and private companies, such as corporate shuttles and transportation for the elderly.

It will do so by co-ordinating Toyota’s information structure for connected vehicles with SoftBank’s Internet of Things platform, which collects and analyses consumer data from smartphones and sensor devices.

Commenting on the initiative during a joint press conference in Tokyo, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda said: “We see our partnership with SoftBank as a key part of the third pillar of our ally-building strategy.

“When we were a company that focused only on manufacturing cars, we were unable to work together with SoftBank. Twenty years on, as we aim to become a mobility company, this partnership is indispensable.

“We see SoftBank's strengths as its ability to judge based on foresight and their expertise in reading the seeds of the future. In contrast, our strengths are the capabilities of our worksites centred on the Toyota Production System (TPS), or our ability to improve on site.”

Meanwhile, in a separate development in the US, rival Japanese automaker Honda announced it will invest an immediate $750m in Cruise, the self-driving unit owned by General Motors, giving it a stake of 5.7%.

Honda also said it would invest another $2bn over the next 12 years as the two auto giants pledged to work together to build an autonomous vehicle. SoftBank is a significant backer of Cruise, having taken a 19.6% stake earlier this year.

Sourced from SoftBank, Toyota, Honda; additional content by WARC staff