Toyota announced that it will be investing $1 billion over the next five years in an artificial intelligence research company called Toyota Research Institute Inc. (TRI) based in Silicon Valley.
The move by Japanese car manufacturer highlights its vision to position itself as a market leader in autonomous futuristic cars that drive themselves.
The company will be headquartered near Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Toyota will also open a second facility near MIT in Massachusetts.
The news follows an announcement that Toyota will invest $50 million over the next five years at MIT and Stanford to establish joint fundamental artificial intelligence research centers at each university.
Dr. Gill Pratt, Toyota’s Executive Technical Advisor will become the Chief Executive Officer of the new enterprise. Dr. Pratt Significantly influenced robotics research by leading the DARPA Robotics Challenge, where humans and robots collaborated for disaster response. He received a Doctorate degree from the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department at MIT, and taught at MIT and Olin College as Associate Professor and Professor, respectively.
Dr. Pratt said, “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.”
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.”
A breakdown of what we know about Toyota’s AI company:
- Name: Toyota Research Institute, Inc.
- Headquarters: Palo Alto, California, United States of America
- Date of Establishment : January 2016
- Business: Advanced research and product planning with an initial focus on artificial intelligence and robotics
- Initial Investment: $1 billion / 5 yr.
- Number of employees : Approximately 200 (plan)