Toyota announces $1.4bn investment in new artificial intelligence R&D company


Japanese car maker Toyota has announced a A$1.4 billion investment in a new company that will hire leading researchers and engineers to help bridge the gap between fundamental research and product development.

Executive Technical Advisor Gill A. Pratt and President Akio Toyoda
Image credit: Toyota

Headquartered in the Silicon Valley near Stanford University, the new Toyota Research Institute Inc. (TRI) will aim to accelerate research and development in a range of fields to help resolve society’s future mobility challenges by using artificial intelligence and big data.

According to Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), the new company will begin operations in January 2016 with a key focus on supporting future industrial technologies and the creation of an entirely new industry.

TRI will be led by Toyota’s executive technical adviser, Dr Gill Pratt, who said the new company will initially concentrate its efforts on several key areas, including:

  • Improving safety by continuously decreasing the likelihood that a car will be involved in an accident
  • Making driving accessible to everyone, regardless of ability, and
  • Applying 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,” Dr Pratt added.

The latest investment, which will be realised over the course of the next five years,  is in addition to the A$70 million investment with MIT and Stanford to establish joint fundamental artificial intelligence research centres at each university.

“As technology continues to progress, so does our ability to improve products,’ said TMC president Akio Toyoda.

“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.”