By on November 6, 2015

East Palo Alto, CA - September 4, 2015:  Toyota announces $50 million in funding partnership with MIT and Stanford University for artificial intelligence research collaboration September 4, 2015 in East Palo Alto, California.   (Photo by Beck Diefenbach)

Toyota will open a new artificial and robotics R&D company to be called Toyota Research Institute, Inc. (TRI) with an initial investment of $1 billion to open two locations in the United States, the automaker announced Friday.

TRI, which will make its headquarters in Palo Alto, California and establish another office in Cambridge, Massachusetts near MIT, will be led by Dr. Gill Pratt, a former academic in the field of engineering and program manager at DARPA.

“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,” said the automaker in a release.

“Our initial goals are to: 1) improve safety by continuously decreasing the likelihood that a car will be involved in an accident; 2) make driving accessible to everyone, regardless of ability; and 3) apply Toyota technology used for outdoor mobility to indoor environments, particularly for the support of seniors. We also plan to apply our work more broadly, for example to improve production efficiency and accelerate scientific discovery in materials,” said Pratt at an event announcing the new company.

TRI plans to hire 200 employees with the initial $1 billion investment. That investment is expected to fund the initiative for the next five years.

Toyota expects the new company to start operating in January 2016.

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10 Comments on “Toyota Launches AI Efforts With $1 Billion Investment...”


  • avatar
    Speed3

    Silicon Valley is becoming the new Detroit, sorry tech company haters. I guess the question is which automaker will become the Foxconn of cars?

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    “2) make driving accessible to everyone, regardless of ability”

    Right here is the fundamental flaw in the modern world’s – or at least America’s – approach to road laws.

    It’s the reason our Interstates aren’t an Autobahn network.

    It’s the reason we don’t have graduated licensing, in the sense of Tier One being a basic license and Tier Five meaning that speed limits and reckless driving laws no longer apply to you.

    Well, maybe there IS some good in this. I propose a compromise.

    What if we had artificially-intelligent cars that could travel in predictable groups – for the people who didn’t want to be bothered to drive?

    At the same time, what if we set up comprehensive driver training for those who wanted it, with graduated licensing from One to Five, who could become essentially professional-level race drivers legally immune to speed limits and reckless driving laws, using their own special lanes to go as fast as they wanted to?

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      When I was eleven I used to sit way back in our Barcalounger and pretend it was a DB-5. Had my arms out all straight an’ erything, steering, working the shifter (conveniently LHD).. making gear change sounds…

      I was similarly unencumbered by road laws meant only for cattle.

  • avatar
    zip89105

    Toyota should have listened to their current customers and put that money into their products. Better seats and options on lower end models would reap greater rewards. Putting a better radio in their high end models besides the current JBL Kraco Radio Shack monotone version would be nice too.

  • avatar
    turf3

    “Lead” is a dense, grey colored metal, elemental symbol Pb.

    “Led” is the past tense of “lead”, used in this case as a participle.

    Words that sound the same are not always spelled the same. A certain level of professionalism should be expected.

    • 0 avatar

      Professionalism is fixing mistakes when they are pointed out. Sometimes I make mistakes, and correct them, and thank people for pointing them out.

      So, thank you.

      But, rubbing my nose in a spelling error, especially one that small, probably isn’t the most professional thing to do.

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        I’ve been trying to nail down an objective definition of the word “professional” for years, and the only solid, repeatable thing I’ve been able to come up with is that a “professional” is someone who gets paid for what he does.

        It seems that most people use the word “professional” to mean “not complaining about annoying bullshit, questionable official policy, bad pay or poor working conditions.”

    • 0 avatar
      OneAlpha

      Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, once pointed out that the word “leader” is derived from the word “lead,” the material bullets are made from, because the leader was the guy everybody wanted to shoot.

  • avatar
    manny_c44

    Using Bayesian algorithms and advanced facial recognition software this billion dollar AI should possesses the ability to not accelerate the car unintentionally.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Here we go again. Twenty five or thirty years ago, I remember reading predictions that the Japanese were within a couple of years of achieving true artificial intelligence. We’re still waiting.

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