AI News, Toyota Invests $1 Billion in AI and Robots, Will Open R&D Lab in Silicon Valley

Toyota Invests $1 Billion in AI and Robots, Will Open R&D Lab in Silicon Valley

Today in Tokyo, Toyota announced that it is investing US $1 billion over the next five years to establish a new RD arm headquartered in Silicon Valley and focused on artificial intelligence and robotics.

Toyota president Akio Toyoda said in a press conferencethat the company pursues innovation and new technologies “to make life better for our customersand society as a whole,” adding that he wantedto “work with Gill not just because he’s an amazing researcher and engineer, but because I believe his goals and motivations are the same as ours.”

But we’re not also shutting off the idea that some of the time you actually want the car to take over from you and to either drive on a highway on its own or drive in a parking lot by itself, or maybe if you’re too tired to drive home, to take the lead for you.” In terms of robots, he said they’ll be using what they learn and hardware that they develop for indoor mobility applications, hoping to develop technology that can help people get around as well as move objects in their homes.

“We think that it’s really important to nurture the pipeline of new talent that grows, and that means trying to make sure that professors and research scientists that are at universities are not only used as a source of talent but also that we put support back into the system to try to grow more talent.

We also think that when students get to the stage that they have decided that they’re ready to move from the academic world into the private sector that our job is to present them with a really good option—here’s a place where you can be creative, work with other people who are extraordinarily smart, and where you can become even more talented than you were before.

We feel that this level of commitment Toyota is demonstrating towards AI and robotics is exactly the kind of big pushwe need to get these technologies out in the real world.With these new research facilities in California and Massachusetts, we’re hoping that we’ll be able to follow along as TRI develops its advancedcars and robots, as well as other technologies that are probably going to be a complete surprise.

Toyota Research’s Gill Pratt is speaking at TechCrunch Sessions: Robotics at MIT July 17

TechCrunch’s first ever robotics event is fast approaching, and we’re putting the final touches on an amazing programming line-up, which includes MIT’s Daniela Rus, Disney’s Martin Buehler, Amazon’s Tye Brady, ABB’s Sami Atiya, iRobot’s Colin Angle, SRI’s Manish Kothari and many more.

Look for the full agenda soon, but today we’re announcing several big additions to a line-up designed to bring together the fast emerging robotics and AI startup ecosystems with the corporate, government, and research worlds.

(See below for special student ticket pricing.) The Toyota Research View Dr. Gill Pratt is the Executive Technical Advisor and CEO of the Toyota Research Institute (TRI), where he oversees research on AI-based autonomous systems in vehicles as well as home robotics.

TRI’s mission notes that “Home robots may become even more personally prized in our future than cars have been in our past.”   Before joining TRI, Dr. Pratt served for five years as a program manager in the Defense Sciences Office at the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

His areas of research included interfaces that enhance human/machine collaboration and the application of neuroscience techniques to robot perception and control.

To apply for this rate, send a copy of your current transcripts showing your current enrollment status and a copy of your university identification card to

The man that Toyota gave $1 billion to set up a robotics lab

Last summer, the Pentagon’s research division, DARPA, hosted a competition aiming to prove that robots could help save us in even the most dire of disaster situations.

The robots fell over more often than European soccer players, but Gill Pratt, the man behind the competition, believes it won’t be long before robots are helping us around the home, and driving us to work.

His team will be using that $1 billion to build robots that aim to make the planet safer, that you’ll actually be able to buy.

Quartz recently sat down with Pratt to discuss how he’ll set up the lab, his move from working for the US government to a Japanese institution, and when we’re likely to see self-driving cars and robots in our home.

(This transcript has been edited for length and clarity.) There are numerous challenges we need to overcome if we’re going to have intelligent robots or cars in the near future, but is there any one thing that you see that you think that once we’ve got this sorted, everything else will fall into line?

It’s all about reliability when the problem is incredibly difficult—when there’s snow, when there’s a bad sensor, when something really surprising occurs—all of the surprising things that might happen.

Most driving is so easy that we can do it without thinking very much, so most people have had the experience that they leave some place, their mind is preoccupied with something, and suddenly they find themselves home: “How did I get there?

So if 100 people lost their lives in the US every day due to crime, due to terrorism, or accidents of any sort, the news would be going crazy.

It may be that what we need to do is to get society to understand that even though the overall statistics are getting tremendously better, that there are still occasions when the machine is going to be to blame, and we somehow need to accept that.

I was walking home and a small boy who was biking home, somehow ended up that he was biking on the street, and he was hit by a car and killed.

And I saw the driver of the car with his head in his hands, sitting down on a park bench across the street, just beyond grief with what had happened.

And so what we do need is a machine that can get around in this environment we’ve designed for ourselves, and it’s true that the human form has a lot of complexities to it, including balance, and lots of degrees of freedom in all the joints—so it’s not clear that it’s the best form, but nor is it clear that it’s that much harder.

The other thing is that the home is not nearly as bad as a pile of rubble you’re trying to walk across in a disaster, so I don’t think it really speaks that much to what makes the best machine within the home.

Toyota has announced a car called the Teammate Concept—we’re still not sure what the name of the car is going to be, but there will be some autonomous features on the car—and they’ve set a goal of announcing that car by 2020.

And it was set up that way for the same reason, because the larger group takes a longer time to do things and is much more deliberate, and you want the smaller group to be a little scout that goes out looking for things to do.

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