Toyota invests $1 billion in A.I research in Silicon Valley 0


Tesla is the autopilot leader, Google is crushing the autonomous driving and… Toyota’s investing in artificial intelligence?


Toyota announced last week that they’re planning to invest $1 billion in A.I research and development. The brand will be setting up shop in a research lab near Stanford University, in the famous Silicon Valley. The lab is called the Toyota Research Institute (TRI) and will begin running with 200 employees in January 2016.

The company will focus on robotics and artificial intelligence initially; accelerating research into the practical uses of these technologies for industries outside of the automotive, as well as inside it. On top of everyday vehicles, they are aiming to create robotic aid and transport for the physically challenged, elderly and sick to maximise their quality of life and “retain their dignity”. The $1 billion will be spread over five years and comes on top of the $50 million Toyota’s already invested at M.I.T.

The brand has recruited Gill Pratt to head the new project. Pratt, who has a solid history in robotics, shares the same vision as Toyota president Akio Toyoda: “the goal is to do away with the tragedy of car accidents.” Although they’re remaining coy about the research topics, the company has said their three main goals are safety, accessibility and robotics.

Toyota has also revealed that they hope to have a semi-autonomous vehicle ready for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Although they say “we maintain our expectation that drivers will remain in control of their cars in 2020”, they’re hoping that having semi-autonomous cars will help with Japan’s notorious traffic jams.

We imagine that Elon Musk’s attention has certainly been captured by Toyota’s news. It’s another competitor in the race to revolutionise the auto industry.