Toyota Announces Leadership for $1 Billon AI and Robotics Team


LAS VEGAS - CES 2016. A decade ago, who would have thought that car companies would be leaders and big spenders in artificial intelligence and robotics? But here we are in 2016, and Toyota is announcing its all-star leadership team for its massive artificial intelligence and robotics research.

2016 Consumer Electronics Show, Press Conference - Toyota's Dr. Gill Pratt

On January 6th, the Toyota Research Institute (TRI) announced the hiring of its technical leadership team. Previously, Toyota announced the US$ 1 billion funding over five years for this effort.

In its announcement, Toyota's Dr. Gill Pratt, Toyota Executive Technical Advisor and CEO of TRI, described his marching orders:

... has been launched with mandates to enhance the safety of automobiles, with the ultimate goal of creating a car that is incapable of causing a crash [emphasis TMO]; increase access to cars to those who otherwise cannot drive, including the handicapped and the elderly; help translate outdoor mobility technology into products for indoor mobility; and accelerate scientific discovery by applying techniques from artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The technical team is augmented by an advisory board of experts, listed in the news release. The research facilities being created will work in concert with two major U.S. universities.

Two new facilities, one in Palo Alto, Calif., and the other in Cambridge, Mass., officially open in January. The two offices are located within ten-minute bike rides and walks to the Stanford and M.I.T. campuses and will further accelerate TRI’s partnership with both universities.

A significant part of the funding will support collaborative research at these two universities.

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Autonomous cars are essentially early 21st century robots on wheels. The wisdom of testing our foremost A.I. expertise with cars that encase the humans in many protective airbags will be thoroughly tested. Baby steps. And what is Apple doing? It's a mystery.

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