Toyota Invests $50 Million In Artificial Intelligence

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already part of our everyday lives. We often don’t know it because it’s not obvious. However, the next wave of AI-enabled devices will interact with humans in a far more noticeable way via intelligent robots and autonomous cars. Now, the research and development of intelligent vehicle and mobility technologies will get a major boost in an ambitious new collaboration between Toyota, Stanford and MIT. Toyota Motor Corporation has announced that it will invest approximately $50 million over the next five years to establish joint research centres at each university. Toyota believes the opportunities to improve every-day living through AI supported technologies are infinite, with significant breakthrough potential to develop life-saving intelligent vehicles and life-improving robots.

As we age, mobility becomes challenging. Large, aging cohorts of society are unable to drive or move around freely. This bold collaboration of talent sharing between Toyota, MIT, and Stanford will look at extremely complex mobility challenges using groundbreaking AI research. The two university campuses and Toyota will combine research targeted at improving the ability of intelligent vehicle technologies to recognise objects around the vehicle in different environments, provide elevated judgment of surrounding conditions and safely collaborate with vehicle occupants, other vehicles, and pedestrians. 

The joint research will also look at applications of the same technology to human-interactive robotics and information service. These efforts will play a major role in helping reduce traffic casualties and potentially, even helping develop a vehicle being able to avoid getting into a collision. 
Research will work to help intelligent vehicles recognise objects in the road, predict behaviours of things, people and help make safe and smart driving decisions under diverse conditions. Rather than compete with companies like Google and Tesla, which are developing cars that drive without human intervention, Toyota will focus its effort on using advances in AI technologies to make humans better drivers.

Beyond Toyota’s longstanding work on autonomous vehicles and advanced driving support systems, the company has been developing robots for industrial use since the 1970s, and for Partner and Human Support Robot applications since the 2000s. Yet, not everyone is comfortable with AI. Last year, Prof. Stephen Hawking, one of Britain's pre-eminent scientists, said that efforts to create thinking machines pose a threat to our very existence. Hawking says the primitive forms of artificial intelligence developed so far have already proved very useful, but fears the consequences of creating something that can match or surpass humans. Hawking is not alone in fearing for the future as there are concerns that clever machines capable of undertaking tasks done by humans until now will destroy millions of jobs. Technology entrepreneur Elon Musk warns that AI is "our biggest existential threat".

Toyota wants to influence the next generation. This research will concentrate on involving the human element, which is a break from the direction of much AI research, which has focused on building systems and machines that replace us.

Photo Credit: Toyota Global Newsroom