Toyota plans to invest US$400m in Pony.ai, a self-driving technology startup with operations in Silicon Valleyand the Chinese city of Guangzhou, it has been widely reported.

The two companies have been collaborating on autonomous driving technologies since last year and plan to launch a series of self-driving car trials on the roads of Beijing and Shanghai in the near future.

Pony.ai has been testing self-driving taxis in China and California over the last two years andclaims to be the first to offer commercial autonomous ride-hailing services in China.

Toyota has been conducting autonomous driving trials at its closed test facility in Michigan for some time and has also invested US$500m in a mobility services partnership with ride-hailing firm Uber.

The Japanese automaker plans to offer limited ride-hailing services in Tokyo during the 2020 Summer Olympics to test its "Chauffeur" fully-autonomous driving software. Toyota also an advanced driver-assist software system, called Guardian, which has yet to be commercialised.

Toyota's investment values Pony.ai at around US$3bn and takes their relationship to the next level, allowing for the joint development of new mobility services.