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Toyota Invests $1 Billion in Artificial Intelligence in ­.s.

Roboticist Gill Pratt will oversee Toyota's new U.S. research laboratory.

Toyota has committed $1 billion over five years to establish an artificial intelligence research laboratory in Silicon Valley.

Credit: Yuya Shino/Reuters

Toyota on Friday announced a five-year, $1-billion investment to establish an artificial intelligence (AI) research laboratory in Silicon Valley called the Toyota Research Institute (TRI).

The facility will initially concentrate on AI and robotics, investigating how humans move both indoors and outdoors so such knowledge can be applied to mobility for an aging population. The center also will prioritize technologies intended to improve driving safety, as opposed to a complete transition to driverless cars.

Toyota's research focus reflects a rush to develop AI products and services thanks to the advent of successful offerings after years of stagnant development by labs in this sector. Also observed in recent years is a race to acquire talented machine-learning scientists, 200 of whom Toyota plans to hire for the new AI lab.

"The density of people doing this kind of work in Silicon Valley is higher than any other place in the world," says the lab's director and former U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency official Gill Pratt.

He also says Toyota plans to incorporate AI technologies and data into its factory automation systems. "There may also be advances in robot perception, planning, collaboration, and electromechanical design from TRI that will translate into improvements in manufacturing robotics," Pratt notes.

From The New York Times
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