Over the next five years, Toyota will invest in joint research centers located in Silicon Valley and another technology hub in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Professor Gill Pratt , former Program Director for DARPA’s (Defense Research Project Agency) Defense Sciences Office will coordinate the collaboration over the next five years.
Toyota doesn’t necessarily equate artificial intelligence with autonomous driving
Unlike some of its rivals in the technology and auto industries, Toyota believes the day when cars are able to drive entirely by themselves is unlikely to arrive within the next decade. Many people will still want to drive some of the time even when cars are fully equipped to handle the task.
“Our focus today is more on the autonomy of people,” said Pratt.
The company is focusing its efforts on developing technology recognizes when it should take over the steering when a driver is distracted or automatically play a favorite song when it detects a driver is in a bad mood, for instance.
The car would have to be smart enough to know when to automatically intervene, and in some cases, know better than the driver does.
The hard part, which Toyota hopes to work out with Stanford and MIT’s help, is creating a smart machine that can not only react to stimulus, but can also make complex judgments about its environment and interact naturally and in concert with its human driver.
Competitors Moving In A Different Direction
Google has been working on a fleet of self-driving cars for the past six years. Its goal is to have the cars capable of driving completely on their own by 2020. Ride-hailing pioneer Uber has teamed up with Carnegie Mellon University on a Pittsburgh research center in its quest to build driverless cars.
Toyota Strives For Harmonious Relations
Toyota’s vision is to build smart machines that can interact more seamlessly and harmoniously with the people inside and outside of the car.
The MIT research center will focus on inventing ways for cars to recognize their surroundings and make decisions that avert potential accidents.
The Stanford research center will try to create artificial intelligence programs that study human behavior to learn more about the decision making and reasoning that goes into driving so cars can quickly adjust to potentially dangerous situations