U.S., Japanese insurers back autonomous vehicle firm May Mobility

U.S. auto insurer State Farm and Japanese insurance company Tokio Marine (8766.T) have joined in a $111 million funding round for autonomous vehicle technology startup May Mobility, the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based company said on Tuesday.

The funding will allow May Mobility to continue work with Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) on self-driving people movers, May Mobility said in a statement. May said it is aiming to take human drivers out of vehicles in commercial operation by next year.

State Farm, one of the largest U.S. auto insurers, invested through its State Farm Ventures arm, which puts money into startups working on technology that could improve vehicle safety.

Insurance industry support for autonomous vehicle technology could be crucial as self-driving vehicle companies work to convince regulators that robot vehicles can be safer than human-driven ones.