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Toyota Has Stanford And MIT Working On 30 Research Projects In Relation To Safety And Autonomous Cars

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Toyota continues to put the future of its vehicles' safety and heavy investment in artificial intelligence into some of the most brilliant minds in the United States.

When the automaker announced its $1 billion investment in AI back in November, it declared that it would have a laboratory near Stanford University and another one near MIT in Cambridge, Mass., to help reach its goals.

Well, during Toyota's news conference at the Consumer Electronics Show 2016 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Jan. 5, Dr. Gill Pratt, Toyota Research Institute CEO and executive technical adviser, said the company has commissioned some of those brilliant minds at Stanford and MIT to work on 30 research projects, in relation to car safety and advancements in autonomous technology, that they hope to have completed in three years.

In particular, Stanford will be heading a study titled the Uncertainty on Uncertainty, taking a look at how to teach autonomous cars to expect the unexpected on the road and respond accordingly, the way humans are forced to do with fellow drivers who can be unpredictable at times. That study hopes to address and investigate ways for self-driving cars to respond to specific situational events, like debris falling off a truck in front of them.

Meanwhile, MIT will be spearheading The Car Can Explain study, which teaches machines and AI technology to tell stories about themselves to provide unambiguous explanations as to why they might do something unpredictable when it comes to driverless vehicles on the road.

It's all a part of TRI's concerned efforts to accelerate machine learning, robotics, and AI as a whole, allowing more and more functions to be assigned to a car, while still managing to avoid a crash.

Helping the cause of providing drivers with safer vehicles while advancing autonomous driving technologies at the same time is Toyota's dream team of leadership for AI. Those working on projects include James Kuffner, former head of Google Robotics, who will handle Toyota's cloud computing in autonomous vehicles, and Larry Jackel, former Bell Labs department head and a DARPA program manager, who will head Toyota's machine learning.

And Toyota is open to collaborations outside its umbrella, too. Pratt reinforced that the company has already shared 5,600 hydrogen fuell cell car patents at no cost and would be open to the idea of working with other auto manufacturers, technology companies and universities on new concepts as well.

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