Toyota has recently partnered with Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in an effort to conduct artificial intelligence research and implement the findings into its car manufacturing process.
The Japanese company has made the commitment to invest $50 million in researching and developing intelligent vehicles, which could revolutionize travel and transportation beyond recognition.
The research project will be headed by Dr. Gill Pratt, former leader of the robotics challenge at DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). According to him, the synergy resulting from this collaboration will result in automobiles improving their ability to interact safely and intelligently with other vehicles and pedestrians.
MIT will research ways that will allow cars to assess road conditions more accurately and recognize surroundings. Stanford experts will focus on creating an AI program that studies the human decision-making process, so that Toyota can incorporate into automobiles the ability to quickly adjust to risky situations.
This could result in designing a vehicle that is “incapable of getting into a collision”, thus significantly diminishing fatality rates associated with such incidents. In addition, such a breakthrough could enhance people’s mobility, since intelligent self-driving cars could be safe to use by elderly or disabled individuals, who could easily navigate the roads.
Aside from helping those with impairments attain greater independence, the research could also be applied successfully in other correlated fields, such as healthcare, with the ultimate goal of improving quality of life.
“We believe this research will transform the future of mobility, improving safety and reducing traffic congestion”, declared Kiyotaka Ise, chief officer for the Research & Development Group at Toyota Motor Corporation.
So far, Toyota hasn’t joined the recent trend of developing self-driving cars using pre-programmed instructions.
Google for instance has been developing a fleet of robot vehicles featuring autonomous driving technology for the last 6 years, and it aims to have such cars available and ready to use by 2020. Similarly, Uber Technologies Inc. has been working in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon University to manufacture its own driverless automobiles.
Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Nissan have already unveiled such models, but unlike its rivals, Toyota is more concerned with a driver-assist system, instead of developing full autonomy.
However, if team efforts with MIT and Stanford bear fruit, the Japanese car-maker could bring something completely new to the table: an intelligent car which functions like an assistant or a trusted partner.
Such a vehicle could make decisions based on complex, ever-changing traffic conditions and adapt itself to ensure the safety and comfort of passengers and pedestrians likewise.
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