Toyota to study AI at Stanford and MIT

$50 million research aims to reduce highway injuries and fatalities

Published: September 6, 2015, 9:00 AM
Updated: September 7, 2015, 3:00 PM

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Toyota has committed $50 million to research at Stanford and MIT with the aim of reducing highway injuries and fatalities through the use of artificial intelligence.

The five-year investment involves setting up research centres at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Mass. and California’s Stanford University. The centres will primarily focus on studying mobility solutions through robotics and life-saving intelligence for autonomous vehicles.

“We will initially focus 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,” said Kiyotaka Ise, TMC Senior Managing Officer and Chief Officer, R&D Group.

The research will be headed by Dr. Gill Pratt, a long-time MIT associate professor and robotics expert who most recently was a program manager with the U.S.’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). He will oversee teams led by Professor Daniela Rus at MIT and Professor Fei Fei Li at Stanford.

The two schools will look at the way vehicles interact with other road users – vehicles and pedestrians – in order to develop technologies that will allow the vehicles to completely avoid collisions and, ultimately, save lives. Key to attaining those solutions will be to have onboard computers interpret behaviour of other things and people on the road in order to make safe and smart driving decisions.

“This bold collaboration will address extremely complex mobility challenges using ground breaking artificial intelligence research. The joint research will also look at applications of the same technology to human-interactive robotics and information service,” said Pratt. “Key program areas will be addressed by the two university campuses and Toyota, with combined research targeted at improving the ability of intelligent vehicle technologies to recognize objects around the vehicle in diverse environments, provide elevated judgment of surrounding conditions, and safely collaborate with vehicle occupants, other vehicles, and pedestrians.”

“Our team will collaborate with Stanford and Toyota to develop advanced architectures that allow cars to better perceive and navigate their surroundings in order to make safe driving decisions,” said MIT’s Rus. “These efforts will play a major role in helping reduce traffic casualties, and potentially even helping us develop a vehicle incapable of getting into a collision."

“Building on Stanford’s expertise with computer vision, machine learning, large-scale data analysis and human-computer interaction, our team will work to help intelligent vehicles recognize objects in the road, predict behaviors of things and people, and make safe and smart driving decisions under diverse conditions,” added Li, Director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (SAIL).