Toyota Research Institute institutes AI for self-driving cars

GilprattAt a press conference, Toyota Motor Corporation announced it will establish a new company, Toyota Research Institute Inc. (TRI),to research artificial intelligence and robotics. The institute plans on hiring as many as 200 employees.

Toyota believes that self-driving cars are a long way away, the car is not as intelligent as a human being behind the wheel, even though it seems it might be. Autonomous cars look great in controlled environments but soon fail when faced with tasks that human drivers find simple, noted Dr. Gill Pratt, Toyota’s Executive Technical Advisor and the Chief Executive Officer of the new enterprise.

Self-driving cars need more than just sensors and data but artificial intelligence that can know the location and surrounding of the vehicle without maps or GPS, and manage to navigate roads and follow routes even if road hazards or changing in lane markings. Toyota believes it is at the beginning of the race to a truly intelligent self-driving car.

TRI will help bridge the gap between fundamental research and product development. Its primary mission is to accelerate R&D in a range of fields to help resolve society’s future challenges by using artificial intelligence and big data. Thereby, contributing to a sustainable future where everyone can experience a safer, freer, and unconstrained life. TRI will hire leading researchers and engineers to support its wide range of activities.

Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota Motor Corporation, said, “As technology continues to progress, so does our ability to improve products. At Toyota, we do not pursue innovation simply because we can; we pursue it because we should. It is our responsibility to make life better for our customers, and society as a whole. I want to work with Gill, not just because he is a great researcher, but because I believe that his goals and motivations are the same as ours.”

TRI will hire leading researchers and engineers to support its wide range of activities.

The headquarters will be located in Silicon Valley near Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, U.S.A. A second facility will be located near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A. The new company will begin operations in January 2016.
Toyota is making an initial investment of $1 billion over the next five years, to establish and staff the two initial locations and conduct operations. The investment is in addition to the $50 million investment over the next five years with MIT and Stanford to establish joint fundamental artificial intelligence research centers at each university.