- Toyota is investing $50 million to establish joint AI research centers at MIT and Stanford.
- Former DARPA manager will lead Toyota's AI effort, focused on AI-assisted driving for enhanced safety.
- The AI research centers will be located at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab (SAIL).
- Toyota is claiming leadership in AI-assisted driving, which is likely to boost the value of Toyota stock.
Gill Pratt, former Program Manager at DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and leader of its recent Robotics Challenge, has joined Toyota to direct and accelerate these research activities and their application to intelligent vehicles and robotics.
"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," said Toyota's R&D manager Kiyotaka Ise. "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."
Toyota believes the opportunities to improve every-day living through artificial intelligence supported technologies are boundless, with significant breakthrough potential for the development of life-saving intelligent vehicles and life-improving robots.
"This bold collaboration will address extremely complex mobility challenges using ground breaking artificial intelligence research," said Pratt. "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 recognize 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."
MIT announced that Toyota's funding will be used to establish a $25 million research center to further the development of autonomous vehicle technologies, with the goal of reducing traffic casualties and potentially even developing a vehicle incapable of getting into an accident. Led by Daniela Rus, director of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), the new Toyota-CSAIL Joint Research Center will focus on developing advanced decision-making algorithms and systems that allow vehicles to perceive and navigate their surroundings safely, without human input.
"We are excited to mark the start of our partnership with Toyota, and hopefully the beginning of the end for traffic fatalities," says Rus. "Together we have developed some research directions that have the potential to be game-changers in the field, and we look forward to working closely with Toyota and Stanford to make them real."
Stanford announced the formation of the SAIL-Toyota Center for AI Research, a new research center funded by $25 million from Toyota to further the development of artificial intelligence technologies, with a goal of reducing traffic casualties and assisting drivers in various ways.
"AI-assisted driving is a perfect platform for advancing fundamental human-centric artificial intelligence research while also producing practical applications," said Fei-Fei Li, director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab (SAIL), who will also direct the new AI center. "Autonomous driving provides a scenario where AI can deliver smart tools for assistance in decision making and planning to human drivers."
The announcements of Toyota, MIT, and Stanford, emphasize that the new effort will focus on AI-assisted driving. This is in part because of an obvious need - according to the World Health Organization, 3,400 people die a day due to automobile-related accidents - but also because it is a particularly good challenge for developing AI methodologies and platforms. In particular, AI applications such as computer vision and speech recognition, brain-inspired computing, deep learning, and semi-automated decision making, which are the key technologies for AI-assisted driving, could find countless applications in other important industrial areas.
With this move Toyota shows a clear understanding of where technology is headed, in the car sector and beyond, and claims leadership in AI-assisted driving. AI for both autonomous (self-driving cars) and computer-assisted driving is pursued by major technology companies, including Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL), but Toyota could be a sector leader because it's a car maker. Toyota's stock has done well in the last 5 years, the new initiative indicates that it might do even better in the next. Therefore, the sharp drop in the last three months should encourage investors to buy and hold Toyota stock.
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