Toyota Establishes Collaborative Research Centres With MIT And Stanford To Accelerate Artificial Intelligence Studies

7 September 2015
  • Toyota will invest $50 million to broaden its focus on computer science and human –machine interaction with an immediate goal of reducing road traffic injuries and fatalities
  • Dr Gill A. Pratt joins Toyota to direct overall collaborative efforts at two research centres in the USA
  • Professor Daniela Rus to lead the joint research centre at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Professor Fei-Fei Li to lead the joint research centre at Stanford University

The research and development of intelligent vehicle and mobility technologies will receive a major boost in an ambitious new collaboration between Toyota, Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Toyota Motor Corporation announced at a press conference in Palo Alto today that it will invest approximately $50 million over the next five years to establish joint research centres at each university. Additionally, Dr Gill Pratt, former Program Manager at DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and leader of its recent Robotics Challenge, has joined Toyota to direct and accelerate these research activities and their application to intelligent vehicles and robotics.

As people age, mobility becomes more challenging; larger numbers of people are unable to drive or move freely. Also, the demands on healthcare systems and people who support the physically infirm continue to increase. Toyota believes there are boundless opportunities to improve everyday living through artificial intelligence-supported technologies, with significant breakthrough potential for the development of life-saving intelligent vehicles and life-enhancing robots.

Kiyotaka Ise, Senior Managing Officer and Chief Officer of Toyota Motor Corporation’s R&D Group, said: “We’re here today to mark the beginning of an unprecedented commitment. We will initially focus on the acceleration of intelligent vehicle technology with the immediate goal of helping eliminate traffic casualties and the ultimate goal of helping improve quality of life through enhanced mobility and robotics.

“This partnership, led by Dr Pratt, is a great opportunity to work with two leading research teams from two top universities. I am very excited about what this new venture means for Toyota and look forward to more announcements in the future.”

Dr Pratt said: “This bold collaboration will address extremely complex mobility challenges using ground-breaking artificial intelligence research. I’m thrilled to be a part of the synergies and talent-sharing between Toyota, MIT and Stanford.

“Key programme areas will be addressed by the two university campuses and Toyota, with combined research targeted at improving the ability of intelligent vehicle technologies to recognise objects around a vehicle in diverse environments; provide elevated judgement of surrounding conditions; and safely collaborate with vehicle occupants, other vehicles and pedestrians. This joint research will also look at the applications of the same technology to human-interactive robotics and information service.”

Research at MIT will be led by Professor Daniela Rus, Director of the institute’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL).

She said: “Our team will collaborate with Stanford and Toyota to develop advanced architectures that allow cars to better perceive and navigate their surroundings, in order to make safe driving decisions. These efforts will play a major role in helping reduce road traffic casualties and, potentially, help us develop a vehicle incapable of being involved in a collision.”

Professor Fei-Fei Li, Director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (SAIL), will lead the Stanford research centre. This will collaborate with MIT and Toyota to develop advanced intelligent systems to recognise, understand and act in complex traffic environments.

“Building on Stanford’s expertise with computer vision, machine learning, large-scale data analysis and human – computer interaction, our team will work to help intelligent vehicles recognise objects in the road, predict behaviours of things and people and make safe and smart driving decisions under diverse conditions,” said Professor Li.

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. This collaborative effort will open up new avenues for systems and product development across a broad range of mobility applications.


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Toyota Establishes Collaborative Research Centres With MIT And Stanford To Accelerate Artificial Intelligence Studies


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