Toyota recently announced at the 2016 CES that it has already filled its roster for their AI and robotics team—the Toyota Research Institute (TRI), which the car manufacturing company invested $1 billion in. The research centers are tasked with studying how they can further improve the safety of vehicles, ultimately allowing cars that cannot be responsible for a collision, Toyota notes.
“While the most important technology for enhancing human mobility has traditionally been hardware, today software and data are increasingly essential,” said Gill Pratt, Toyota Executive Technical Advisor and CEO of TRI. “Our leadership team brings decades of experience in pushing the boundaries of human knowledge in computer science and robotics, but we are only getting started."
“We wish to enhance the safety of automobiles with the ultimate goal of creating a car that is incapable of causing a crash, regardless of the skill or condition of the driver,” Pratt said in an accompanying statement.
Among the new hires were former head of Google Robotics James Kuffner, former Bell Labs department head Larry Jackel, and former DARPA program manager Eric Krotkov, who will become the research center’s chief operating officer. Additionally, Rodney Brooks, the former director of the MIT Computer Science and AI Lab, came on as a board member.
Future of Automobiles
Ultimately, the company has been making moves towards futuristic cars for some time.
With Toyota filling out positions on the TRI, the company emphasizes its focus on the development of self-driving cars and intelligent mobility.
Eventually, the brand hopes to create cars that can safely transport handicapped and elderly passengers by applying what they have learned in AI and machine learning to indoor and outdoor mobility.
Toyota’s efforts stand in contrast to other car manufacturers, whose investments have focused more on consumer-facing technology and business models. Ford, for instance has just partnered with San Francisco based ride hailing service app, Lyft, in recognition of how technology has changed the commuting habits of people today.