Nagoya startup offers unique tactic to sell driverless tech

In the field of self-driving cars, Japanese companies are being left in the dust of their U.S. rivals, including Waymo LLC of Google operator Alphabet Inc. and General Motors affiliate GM Cruise Holdings.

However, a Nagoya University startup is throwing its hat in the ring using a unique strategy.

Tier IV Inc. is contemplating a business plan that offers its software for free, in principle, to encourage more companies to use its self-driving technologies.

Shinpei Kato, chief technical officer of the company who studied autonomous driving at Carnegie Mellon University in the United States, founded the Nagoya-based company.

“The value of software will continue to rise. We want to enhance the system capabilities and increase sales,” Kato said.

Tier IV purchased a chassis from automakers to develop an autonomous driving system.

Automakers were brought together in late September for a trial experiment on their self-driving cars along Tokyo’s Aomi waterfront.