Toyota and Li to teach cars to think

By AFP Reporter Time of article published Sep 7, 2015

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New York - Toyota has announced plans to invest $50 million (R698 million) in building artificial intelligence into cars, an indication it could be joining the race to develop driverless vehicles.

Toyota said on Friday the joint research with Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology would take place over the next five years, emphasising its interest in technology that could be used by people as they grow old or become less able to drive safely.

Research and development chief Kiyotaka Ise said: “We will focus initially 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.

The laboratory efforts will be directed by former US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency programme manager Gill Pratt, who headed a recent contest for robots that could be used to help emergency workers in disaster situations.


Google and several major car makers have been pursuing autonomous vehicle technology and, while Toyota didn’t mention making cars that drive themselves, it did promise work on “intelligent vehicle technology”.

A Stanford laboratory team led by professor Fei-Fei Li will work with Toyota and MIT to use computer vision, machine learning and large-scale data analysis to enable vehicles to navigate complex traffic situations.

Li said: “Our team will work to help intelligent vehicles recognise objects in the road, predict the behaviour of things and people, and make safe and smart driving decisions under diverse conditions.”

The joint research will also look at applying innovation breakthroughs in robots, according to Pratt.

“This bold collaboration will address extremely complex mobility challenges,” he said, “using ground-breaking artificial intelligence research.”


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