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Toyota Prides Itself on Artificial Intelligence Research Dream Team

Toyota has announced its team for artificial intelligence development and robotics research.
Toyota CES 2016 press conference 1 photo
The Japanese company is investing a massive amount of money in this field and will work on almost thirty new projects in the AI and robotics fields, all with the help of MIT and Stanford. Toyota has opened new offices in Palo Alto and Cambridge, Massachusetts, to aid their scientists’ push on these new fields.

In addition to the large team, Toyota’s Research Institute will be guided by a dedicated Advisory Board of scientific, corporate and public policy leaders from around the world.

Toyota’s first mention of their plan to develop new AI tech was in November 2015, and the company didn’t miss a beat and it established what can be considered an “all-star” team in the world of science.

The initial investment for this project is of $1 billion, spread over a five-year period. The Japanese company wants to use its new team for improving the safety of its vehicles, developing self-driving cars, increasing access to cars for those who cannot drive for medical reasons, accelerating development and discovery of artificial intelligence and machine learning, and more.

The ultimate goal of Toyota in this direction is developing a car incapable of crashing. This objective is similar to that of Volvo, but works in a different way: while Volvo has already promised that nobody will die in one of their cars made after the year 2020, Toyota is planning on building a car incapable of crashing.

So, let’s review the initial technical team of the Toyota Research Institute. The Chief Operating Officer is Eric Krotkov, a former DARPA Program Manager. One can say he knows his way with AI and driver-less cars. The chief of the Machine Learning Department is Larry Jackel, former Bell Labs Development Head and DARPA Program Manager. James Kuffner, CMU Professor and former head of Google’s Robotics department will head the Cloud Computing section.

In charge of the Autonomous Driving department is John Leonard, a Professor of Mechanical and Ocean Engineering at MIT. Also from MIT is Russ Tedrake, who is in charge of Simulation and Control. Brian Storey, a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Olin College of Engineering, will be responsible for Accelerating Scientific Discovery. The three professors will work part-time with the Toyota Research Institute, so that they are able to continue their teaching activities.

The only Toyota Motor Corporation employee in the initial technical team is Hiroshi Okajima, Project General Manager of the R&D Management Division.

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