Toyota pumps $1billion into autonomous driving research

Japanese car firm Toyota is set open a third Toyota Research Institute (TRI) in the USA, which will fund studies into artificial intelligence, materials science and robotics.

The new centre is located in Ann Arbor, close to the University of Michigan and is due to open in June this year and is set to build a 50-strong team. It will join the a TRI facility working with Stanford University, and a third partnering with Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

These facilities are in addition to the two well-established technical centres nearby, which have been researching the concept of autonomous vehicles for more than a decade.

Each TRI facility will have a different core discipline, covering autonomous (chauffeured) driving; so-called “guardian angel” driving, where the driver is always engaged, with the vehicle assisting when needed and a facility dedicating a large part of its work to simulations.

The Toyota Research Institute is an enterprise designed to bridge the gap between research and product development.

With initial funding of $1 billion, Toyota aims to research enhancements in car safety with the ultimate goal of creating a car that is incapable of causing a crash, increase access to vehicles for those who otherwise could not drive, for example older drivers or the disabled whilst utilising artificial intelligence to help reduce costs and improve the performance of future vehicles.

Dr Gill Pratt, TRI Chief Executive said:

“Although the industry, including Toyota, has made great strides in the last five years, much of what we have collectively accomplished has been easy, because most driving is easy. Where we need autonomy to help most is when the driving is difficult. It’s this hard part that TRI intends to address.

“Toyota’s goal is safe mobility for all, at any time, in any place, and the tremendous improvements in quality of life that such universal mobility can bring.”

The Founder of driveEV. A driving and new technology fan enjoying learning all about the future of motoring. I drive a BMW i3.