Toyota to invest $50m in “intelligent car” project with MIT and Stanford (VIDEO)


Toyota is investing $50 million with Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to create two new artificial intelligence research centres dedicated to robot-assisted driving and inventing new ways to help people and goods move around.

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Gill Pratt, a prominent American roboticist, who left his position at the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Pentagon, has been hired by Toyota to direct the effort.

“We’re here today to mark the beginning of an unprecedented commitment. We will initially focus on the acceleration of intelligent vehicle technology, with the immediate goal of helping eliminate traffic casualties and the ultimate goal of helping improve quality of life through enhanced mobility and robotics. This partnership, led by Dr Pratt, 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,” said Kiyotaka Ise, TMC Senior Managing Officer and Chief Officer, R&D Group.

“This bold collaboration will address extremely complex mobility challenges using ground breaking artificial intelligence research. I’m thrilled to be a part of the synergies and talent-sharing of Toyota, MIT, and Stanford. Key program areas will be addressed by the two university campuses and Toyota, with combined research targeted at improving the ability of intelligent vehicle technologies to recognise objects around the vehicle in diverse environments, provide elevated judgment of surrounding conditions, and safely collaborate with vehicle occupants, other vehicles, and pedestrians. The joint research will also look at applications of the same technology to human-interactive robotics and information service,” said Dr Pratt.

Electrical engineering and computer science Professor Daniela Rus will lead the research at MIT, while Fei-Fei Li, Director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, will be spearheading the effort there.

“Our team will collaborate with Stanford and Toyota to develop advanced architectures that allow cars to better perceive and navigate their surroundings in order to make safe driving decisions. These efforts will play a major role in helping reduce traffic casualties, and potentially even helping us develop a vehicle incapable of getting into a collision,” said Professor Rus.

“Building on Stanford’s expertise with computer vision, machine learning, large-scale data analysis and human-computer interaction, our team will work to help intelligent vehicles recognise objects in the road, predict behaviors of things and people, and make safe and smart driving decisions under diverse conditions,” said Professor Li.

The Japanese automaker said that the financial commitment will be made over the next five years.

Click here to check out the video of the official announcement.