Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday it has agreed with U.S. ride-hailing firm Lyft Inc. to acquire its self-driving division for $550 million with an aim to accelerate the development of the carmaker's autonomous driving technologies.

The purchase via Woven Planet Holdings Inc., a Toyota unit engaging in software developments, will enable the Japanese automaker to have development bases in California and London in addition to Tokyo and increase the total number of researchers and engineers to 1,200.

Woven Planet and Lyft also have agreed to utilize Lyft's system and fleet data to speed up commercialization of Woven Planet's automated-driving technology and improve its safety features.

This will be the first buyout by Woven Planet since it started operation in January this year. It plans to complete the acquisition of Lyft's division, Level 5, in five years.

"Bringing Level 5's world-class engineers and experts into the fold -- as well as additional technology resources -- will allow us to have even greater speed and impact," Woven Planet CEO James Kuffner said in a statement.

Toyota is also working in cooperation with Aurora Innovation Inc., a U.S. driverless technology startup, which acquired the self-driving unit of Uber Technologies Inc. in which Toyota had invested in.

The Japanese government has been keen to push for the development of self-driving cars, with a revised law taking effect in April last year that allows level-3 autonomous vehicles to run on public roads.

Autonomous driving technology is classified into five levels, ranging from level 1, which allows either steering, acceleration or braking to be automated, to a fully automated level 5.

Related coverage:

Toyota to increase IT engineer hires to develop autonomous, other vehicles

Toyota to develop hydrogen engine to achieve carbon neutrality

Toyota to market 15 EV models globally by 2025