The Toyota Research Institute (TRI) today announced the hiring of its technical leadership team, bringing together an all-star group of scientists and engineers to help drive research into artificial intelligence and robots or we can say they will work on autonomous vehicles and safety technology. TRI CEO Gill Pratt introduced the technical team and initial TRI research programs in a press conference at the 2016 International Consumer Electronics Show.
Toyota’s newly-formed research institute is to begin developing the next generation of automotive technology as part of a $1 billion research funding. The TRI 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, 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.
“While the most important technology for enhancing human mobility has traditionally been hardware, today software and data are increasingly essential,” said Pratt. “The scale of Toyota’s commitment reflects our belief in the importance of developing safe and reliable automated mobility systems. Simply put, we believe we can significantly improve the quality of life for all people, regardless of age, with mobility products in all aspects of life.”
The TRI features teams working both at the Stanford University in California and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Around 30 research projects have already been approved, two were highlighted at CES 2016. The Stanford team leads the first project that has been dubbed as “Uncertainty on Uncertainty,” and is designed to teach autonomous cars to safely respond to unanticipated events. The second research project will be undertaken at MIT, is called “The Car Can Explain”. This project will provide autonomous cars with the ability to explain their actions. If an autonomous car is considered to be responsible for an accident, that means the car will be able to clearly explain its thought processes.
Toyota has already committed $50 million over the next five years to support collaborative research into artificial intelligence and robotics research at Stanford and MIT. The program has identified and funded almost thirty initial research projects and project teams.