Happy New Year, team members! To help us reengage our work brains after the holiday break, we have a new acronym to wrap our minds around: TRI. But this one, if it achieves its ambitious goals, could give birth to advanced technology that truly is mind blowing.
The Toyota Research Institute officially opened its doors this month after an introductory press conference in Japan in November. Its primary base of operations is in Silicon Valley near Stanford University. A second facility will be established near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. The focus of both entities: research and development in artificial intelligence and robotics.
Toyota is fully committed to this new venture, to the tune of $1 billion over its first five years. That’s in addition to $50 million to be invested in joint research centers at each university.
TRI’s primary mission is to bridge the gap between fundamental research and product development. By finding innovative ways to leverage artificial intelligence and big data, Toyota aims to:
- decrease the likelihood a vehicle will be involved in an accident;
- make driving accessible to everyone, regardless of ability;
- apply Toyota technology aimed for outdoor mobility to indoor environments, particularly for the support of seniors.
“We also plan to apply our work more broadly,” says Dr. Gill Pratt, executive technical advisor and CEO of the new enterprise. “For example, we could help improve production efficiency and accelerate scientific discovery in materials.”
Rest assured, all of the above is enthusiastically endorsed by Toyota Motor Corporate President Akio Toyoda.
“As technology continues to progress, so does our ability to improve products,” he says. “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.”
By Dan Miller