Toyota is investing a hefty $1 billion over a five-year period to open a new artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics research institute in Silicon Valley.
The venture will be called the Toyota Research Institute (TRI) and will have Gill Pratt at the helm. Pratt previously worked at DARPA before joining Toyota earlier this year.
At a press conference on Friday, Nov. 6, the world's largest automaker announced plans to establish the R & D enterprise in Silicon Valley, near Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. The TRI will initially focus on robotics and artificial intelligence, aiming to make significant advancements in these areas. Toyota also plans a second facility near MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. According to the press release, operations are set to commence in January 2016.
"Toyota believes artificial intelligence has significant potential to support future industrial technologies and the creation of an entirely new industry," notes the automaker.
With this in mind, Toyota is making a $1 billion initial investment over the next five years, which will cover the costs of establishing and staffing the two facilities and conducting operations. Aside from this push, Toyota is also investing another $50 million over the next five years to establish joint AI research centers at both MIT and Stanford.
According to the automaker, TRI aims to bridge the gap between research and actual development of products. Its main focus will be to boost R & D in a range of fields, leveraging AI and big data to help overcome future challenges society may face.
With TRI, Toyota aims to help build a "sustainable future where everyone can experience a safer, freer and unconstrained life."
Pratt went on to outline the automaker's initial goals toward this endeavor. First of all, TRI will seek to reduce the likelihood of a car being involved in an accident, aiming to improve safety. Secondly, Toyota also aims to make driving more accessible, even to people with disabilities. Lastly, the automaker aims to leverage Toyota technology to bring mobility from outdoors to indoors to help senior citizens.
Toyota's upcoming TRI will be one of the largest research institutes in Silicon Valley. Artificial intelligence is becoming an increasingly important area of focus for heavyweight companies, with several tech firms aiming to focus more of their efforts on AI endeavors. Just recently, Google said that it was rethinking everything with machine learning at the core, pushing for smarter artificial intelligence.
Toyota is just one of the companies interested in AI, and its ambitious plans herald an exciting future. For more information, you can check out Toyota's press conference on artificial intelligence.