Toyota to Pump $1bn into Research Institute

Toyota to Pump $1bn into Research Institute

Toyota is set to invest $1 billion across the next five year period on its Toyota Research Institute based in the US.

The high tech research facility will focus on robotics, artificial intelligence and autonomous cars, with the move coming at a time of intensifying competition for the development of self driving cars.

Toyota’s strategy has been made more urgent by the possible new entrants to automotive from Silicon Valley.

The Japanese car giant has recruited top robotics researcher, Gill Pratt, to lead and run operations of the TRI and has been given the power to hire hundreds of scientists and engineers.

Pratt has hired nearly 100 employees already, among them is former head of robotics at Google, James Kuffner, meanwhile they have also opened a new research facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

In its quest to rethink the emergence of advanced technologies and the capabilities of cars, Toyota has also struck up partnerships with MIT, Stanford and the University of Michigan.

Among the technologies considered by TRI, Pratt is a keen advocate of ‘guardian angel’ technology that is said to find evasive strategies if a vehicle is in immediate trouble, for example if it is about to crash into another vehicle.

The idea behind this technology is that the car will be able to calculate an evasion plan for itself through artificial intelligence systems using all vehicular controls.

Pratt told reporters at a Tokyo briefing that he believes that many of the car safety features that are to be trialled by TRI will make significant advances in the near future and may even be introduced over the next five year period.

He added that one of the main reasons for the founding of TRI was to enable Toyota to make decisions in a swifter fashion.

Meanwhile, Toyota has brought the solar panel feature back to its Prius Prime model, which will now power the vehicle.

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