Toyota announced that it will be investing approximately $50 million over the next five years to establish joint research centers at Stanford and MIT. Dr. Gill Pratt, former Program Manager at DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and leader of its recent Robotics Challenge, has joined Toyota to direct and accelerate these research activities and their application to intelligent vehicles and robotics.
Toyota believes the opportunities to improve every-day living through artificial intelligence supported technologies are boundless, with the potential for the development of life-saving intelligent vehicles and life-improving robots.
The project will initially focus on the acceleration of intelligent vehicle technology, with the immediate goal of helping eliminate traffic casualties and the ultimate goal of helping improve quality of life through enhanced mobility and robotics.
“Our goal, which is a little different than the approach that others take, is to build intelligence to help the car be really a guardian angel for you and keeping you from having a wreck,” said Dr. Pratt.
Key program areas will be addressed by the two university campuses and Toyota, with combined research targeted at improving the ability of intelligent vehicle technologies to recognize objects around the vehicle in diverse environments. The joint research will also look at applications of the same technology for human-interactive robotics and information services.
Research at MIT will be led by Professor Daniela Rus, Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Director of the Institute’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). Their goal is to develop a vehicle incapable of getting into a collision.
Led by Professor Fei-Fei Li, Director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (SAIL), the Stanford-based research center will collaborate with MIT and Toyota to develop advanced intelligent systems to recognize, understand and act in complex traffic environments. The team will work to help intelligent vehicles recognize objects in the road, predict behaviors of things and people, and make safe and smart driving decisions under diverse conditions.
“AI-assisted driving is a perfect platform for advancing fundamental human-centric artificial intelligence research while also producing practical applications,” said Fei-Fei Li, an associate professor of computer science at Stanford, director of SAIL and the director of the new AI center. “Autonomous driving provides a scenario where AI can deliver smart tools for assistance in decision making and planning to human drivers.”
The first cars with AI technology will work as partners with the driver to make safe decisions, Li said, so devising ways to carefully and comfortably share control between the human and the computer will be instrumental in this technology gaining the public’s trust.
Beyond Toyota’s longstanding work on autonomous vehicles and advanced driving support systems, the company has been developing robots for industrial use since the 1970s, and for Partner and Human Support Robot applications since the 2000s. This collaborative effort will open up new avenues for systems and product development across a broad range of mobility applications.