Toyota Invests $1 Billion in Artificial Intelligence Research Center in California

Breaking News, Nov. 6:

Gill Pratt, a roboticist who will oversee Toyota's new research laboratory in the United States, at a news conference Friday in Tokyo. (Yuya Shino/Reuters)

Gill Pratt, a roboticist who will oversee Toyota’s new research laboratory in the United States, at a news conference Friday in Tokyo. (Yuya Shino/Reuters)

Toyota, the Japanese auto giant, on Friday announced a five-year, $1 billion research and development effort headquartered here. As planned, the compound would be one of the largest research laboratories in Silicon Valley.

Conceived as a research facility bridging basic science and commercial engineering, it will be organized as a new company to be named Toyota Research Institute. Toyota will initially have a laboratory adjacent to Stanford University and another near M.I.T. in Cambridge, Mass.

Toyota plans to hire 200 scientists for its artificial intelligence research center.

The new center will initially focus on artificial intelligence and robotics technologies and will explore how humans move both outdoors and indoors, including technologies intended to help the elderly.

When the center begins operating in January, it will prioritize technologies that make driving safer for humans rather than completely replacing them. That approach is in stark contrast with existing research efforts being pursued by Google and Uber to create self-driving cars.

“We want to create cars that are both safer and incredibly fun to drive,” Dr. Pratt said. Rather than completely removing driving from the equation, he described a collection of sensors and software that will serve as a “guardian angel,” protecting human drivers.

In September, when Dr. Pratt joined Toyota, the company announced an initial artificial intelligence research effort committing $50 million in funding to the computer science departments of both Stanford and M.I.T. He said the initiative was intended to turn one of the world’s most successful carmakers into one of the world’s top software developers.

In addition to focusing on navigation technologies, the new research corporation will also apply artificial intelligence technologies to Toyota’s factory automation systems, Dr. Pratt said.

Source: NY Times

 

 

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