Toyota Pumps £33m Into Smart Car Research


Auto maker teams up with Stanford and MIT researchers as it investigates how AI can help cut down on road accidents

Toyota is making a significant investment into smart car and driving technology as it looks to help bring the dream of autonomous vehicles a step closer.

The Japanese manufacturer has pledged $50 million (£32.75m) of funding into a five-year project researching artificial intelligence, which will include setting up joint research centres at both MIT and Stanford University.

Calling the deal the beginning of “an unprecedented commitment”, Kiyotaka Ise, Toyota’s senior managing officer and chief officer of its R&D group, said that the company’s work will look to span many areas.

This will initially include improving the ability of cars to recognise objects around them, improve their judgement in case of a collision, and improve communication with vehicle occupants, pedestrians, and other cars.


2015_Toyota_MIT_Stanford_AI“The immediate goal (is) helping eliminate traffic casualties and the ultimate goal of helping improve quality of life through enhanced mobility and robotics,” Ise said.

“This partnership…is a great opportunity to work with two leading research teams from two top universities. I am very excited about what this new venture means for Toyota, and I look forward to more announcements in the future.”

Leading the program is former DARPA head Gill Pratt, who was also leader of its recent Robotics Challenge, and the project will also look at applications of the same technology to human-interactive robotics and information service.

Toyota says that it believes the opportunities for improving everyday living through artificial intelligence supported technologies are ‘boundless’, particularly when it comes to the development of life-saving intelligent vehicles and life-improving robots.

The announcement marks the latest move by Toyota into the self-driving car sector, having previously worked with Google to develop the search giant’s prototype smart car. The company has been developing robots for industrial use since the 1970s, and for Partner and Human Support Robot applications since the 2000s.

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