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Toyota Research Institute Will Tap Into Silicon Valley's Brightest Minds
What cars can do, and what we as a people can do with them, may change drastically and in ways we can’t now imagine, with a recent announcement by Toyota of a five-year $1 billion artificial intelligence research and development facility in Silicon Valley. At Carstar Black Hills Auto Body, we always enjoy sharing news about the future of automotive technology. Here in Cottonwood and throughout the state of AZ, we're witnessing huge strides happening every day during this explosive time in the world of cars and transportation.
The Toyota Research Institute Will Focus on Navigation Technologies and Applying Artificial Intelligence Capabilities to Its Factory Automation Systems.
The new facility will be overseen by Dr. Gill Pratt, formerly of the U.S. Defense Advance Research Projects Agency, and will serve to extend the car manufacturing giant’s partnership with Stanford University.
The Toyota Research Institute aims to improve vehicle safety by finding ways to prevent crashes. It also aspires to create technologies to make driving accessible even to those whose physical limitations now make it difficult or impossible. And, in a nod toward Japan’s aging demographic, research will be done to help seniors in particular with getting around indoors, by applying the kinds of technologies that help with outdoor mobility. The elderly is a segment of the Japanese population expected to exceed 40 percent by 2030. By comparison, the number of people 65 or older in the U.S. is expected to rise from 15 percent to 20 percent by then.
With plans to open in January, the center will be a total departure from efforts by other firms like Google and Uber to create self-driving cars; instead, focusing on using technologies to make driving safer for human drivers.
Pratt has been quoted saying the idea is to produce cars “that are both safer and incredibly fun to drive;” the idea being to devise technologies that function like “guardian angels,” for human drivers instead of entirely dispensing with the need for people to drive vehicles.
The planned compound, which will initially focus on artificial intelligence and robotics, would be among the area’s largest research facilities. Toyota will start out with a laboratory next to Stanford University and another near the Cambridge, Massachusetts Campus of M.I.T.
Some are comparing Toyota’s latest research efforts with a similar push by Xerox in 1970, which, while it failed to find a way for the firm to compete with IBM, did produce technologies that completely changed the computer industry.
Toyota officials have said they plan to hire 200 “machine learning” scientists for the company’s artificial intelligence research center, largely from Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley, which is nearby, on the other side of the Bay.
Staying on the edge at looking at the future, this facility designed and constructed by Toyota will undoubtedly shape automotive history for many years to come.