Toyota Motor Corporation announced in early November that it will start a new company, Toyota Research Institute Inc. (TRI), focused on artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics.
The new company headquarters will be located in Silicon Valley near Stanford University and it will set up another near MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Toyota believes AI has the potential to support future industrial technologies and the creation of an entirely new industry.
The company feels strongly about this belief that it has decided to invest $1 billion over the next five years to establish and staff the two initial locations and conduct operations.
It has also decided to invest an additional $50 million over the next five years to assist MIT and Stanford to establish joint fundamental AI research centers.
"Our initial goals are to: 1) improve safety by continuously decreasing the likelihood that a car will be involved in an accident; 2) make driving accessible to everyone, regardless of ability; and 3) apply Toyota technology used for outdoor mobility to indoor environments, particularly for the support of seniors. We also plan to apply our work more broadly, for example, to improve production efficiency and accelerate scientific discovery in materials," says Gill Pratt, Toyota's executive technical advisor and the CEO of the new enterprise.
The new company is believed to bridge the gap between fundamental research and product development. Its main goal is to use R&D to help resolve society's future challenges by using AI and big data in order to contribute to a sustainable future.
"As technology continues to progress, so does our ability to improve products. At Toyota, we do not pursue innovation simply because we can; we pursue it because we should. It is our responsibility to make life better for our customers and society as a whole. I want to work with Gill, not just because he is a great researcher, but because I believe that his goals and motivations are the same as ours,” says Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corporation, at a press conference revealing the new company.
TRI is set to begin running operations in January 2016.