Trends in Self-Driving Innovation

November 18th, 2015 by Sarah Ricard

Nov. 6, Toyota Motor Corporation announced a 5-year, billion-dollar investment in robotics and artificial intelligence research and development in the U.S.

The plan includes creation of a new company, Toyota Research Institute Inc., with headquarters near Stanford University and a second location near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. TRI will help bridge the gap between fundamental research and product development.

According to The New York Times, Toyota’s investment is an effort to compete with companies such as Ford, Uber, and Google in intelligent and self-driving automotive technology. This investment is in addition to a 5-year, $50 million investment at Stanford and MIT which focuses on joint fundamental artificial intelligence research centers at each university.

Toyota initially plans to focus its efforts toward intelligent automotive systems which will still require human drivers, unlike Google’s and Tesla’s self-driving cars. The human drivers would be assisted by the artificial-intelligence-based monitoring systems.

Other companies are making large-scale investments in the future of automobiles and artificial intelligence.

In October, Ford announced a $1.8 billion investment in R&D at its research centers in China for development of autonomous driving and connectivity features for the Chinese market. Earlier this year, Ford opened its own Silicon Valley research center and partnership with Stanford University regarding autonomous driving and is also developing the self-driving Ford Focus Hybrid in Dearborn, Mich.

While Toyota and Ford are investing in university research partnerships, Uber created its own Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh. Partnerships with TomTom and Microsoft will allow Uber to increase its own resources of innovative driving technology.

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