Toyota announced that it’s setting up a new company, Toyota Research Institute, that will focus on research into artificial intelligence and robotics. The company plans on investing $1 billion into the research arm over the next five years. The main focus will be on autonomous cars which will be rolled out by 2020.
The investment, which will be spread over five years, comes on top of $50 million Toyota announced earlier for artificial intelligence research at Stanford and MIT.
Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota Motor Corporation, said, “As technology continues to progress, so does our ability to improve products. 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. I want to work with Gill, not just because he is a great researcher, but because I believe that his goals and motivations are the same as ours.”
Toyota has already shown an R2-D2-like robot designed to help the elderly, the sick and people in wheelchairs by picking up and carrying objects. The automaker has also shown human-shaped entertainment robots that can converse and play musical instruments.
The head of the facility, Giles Pratt, told the Associated Press that “the company’s goals are to support older people in homes, not just outdoors, with robotics, as well as making cars free of accidents and having everyone driving regardless of ability.”
Toyota is catching up with other car makers who have autonomous vehicle projects in various stages of implementation as of now and leading the pack is Tesla which has already put self-driving cars on road. Even technology giants like Google and even Apple are in the process of building cars of the future.