SoftBank is highly likely to go ahead with its plan to invest $10 billion in Uber, the ride-hailing app company, according to a report on CNet.com.
An Uber representative quoted by CNet says: “We’ve entered into an agreement with a consortium led by SoftBank and Dragoneer on a potential investment.
“We believe this agreement is a strong vote of confidence in Uber’s long-term potential. Upon closing, it will help fuel our investments in technology and our continued expansion at home and abroad, while strengthening our corporate governance.”
It’s not clear what SoftBank’s specific, technological interest is in Uber, but it may be the two companies’ common interest in autonomous technology.
Uber has been developing driverless vehicle technology, and its self-driving startup Otto has already made its first test deliveries, and made a lot of headlines.
Uber is generally much-discussed in the media, not least because its recent legal argument with Google about the alleged theft of trade secrets relating to autonomous driving technology.
Also, Uber has recently been working with Nasa on flying taxis, which are shown on a promotional video going from rooftop to rooftop.
These flying taxis – which look like a hybrid machine integrating helicopter, car and plane technologies – are unlikely to be driverless.
However, Uber has already said and shown strong interest in driverless cars, prompting much anguish among the many human taxi drivers who either currently use Uber to generate business or may lose out to driverless taxis of the future.
SoftBank, meanwhile, has invested heavily in robotics and automation systems, and owns humanoid robots such as Nao and Pepper.
The telecommunications giant has also bought chipmaker ARM, which may indicate its interest in connected and driverless mobility.
CNet estimates that SoftBank’s investment in Uber will give it anywhere between 14 and 20 per cent of the company’s equity.