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Toyota Ramping Up Autonomous Vehicle Development Team

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During the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2016 in Las Vegas this past January, Ford announced that it's tripling the size of its self-driving testing to speed up the overall development of its autonomous technology.

Just over two months later, Toyota seems to be following suit. On Wednesday, the Toyota Research Institute (TRI) announced that the 16-member software engineering team from Jaybridge Robotics will be joining TRI's autonomous vehicle development unit at its Cambridge, Mass. headquarters. 

"TRI's mission is to bridge the gap between research and product development in many areas, including artificial intelligence, robotics and autonomous passenger vehicles," TRI CEO Gill Pratt said, as part of the automaker's press release statement Wednesday. "The 16-member Jaybridge team brings decades of experience developing, testing, and supporting autonomous vehicle products which perfectly complements the world-class research team at TRI."

Jaybridge is equally excited about the challenge in helping TRI achieve its autonomous driving goals, even if it means stepping out of its normal comfort zone of expertise.

"Where Jaybridge has historically limited its focus to industrial applications such as agriculture and mining, TRI is going after the big one — helping to reduce the nearly 1.25 million traffic fatalities each year, worldwide," the company's CEO Jeremy Brown said. "We couldn't be more excited."

During CES 2016, Pratt told Tech Times that, while he expects accelerated improvements in the development of both driver-assistance features and self-driving vehicles, he doesn't expect fully-autonomous cars to be ready for 2020, the year that several automakers have targeted.

"I am skeptical that we will be done with both in four years," Pratt said back in early January. "That's a very short time and we have a long way to go [with the full development of autonomous cars]. And again, just because we are 90, 95 percent of the way there doesn't mean if you've been climbing a mountain and you've been walking through the foothills — and that's 95 percent of the miles you have to go — that the last five percent when you have to climb up to the peak ... that's the hard part. It's going to take us a lot longer to get up the rest of the way of the peak than it has been the easy part."

Well, perhaps the assistance from Jaybridge Robotics can help push TRI over the top a little faster.

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