Sony, KDDI Back Autonomous Vehicle Startup in Japan

Sony Corp. and Japanese telecom KDDI Corp. are backing Tier IV Inc., a Japanese startup that develops and sells operating systems for autonomous vehicles.

The two companies are part of a 3 billion-yen ($28 million) investment round in the 3-year-old company. Tier IV’s open-source Autoware operating system is based on research by Nagoya University and Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.

KDDI will test advanced 5G telecommunications technology, and Sony says its semiconductor and insurance units may participate in the startup’s activities.

Tier IV’s platform has been used by more than 100 companies, according to The Nikkei. The newspaper says the startup plans to use the funds it has raised to collaborate with others to provide self-driving test vehicles it can sell to developers worldwide. The company also wants to develop regional shuttle services that use Autoware to operate low-speed autonomous vehicles.