Toyota is expanding its effort to develop advanced artificial intelligence, robotics and autonomous driving technologies by teaming up with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.
The $22 million project is the latest in a series of collaborative efforts Toyota has launched since setting up its own Toyota Research Institute a year ago. The Japanese maker, reversing a long-standing reluctance to develop autonomous vehicles, has also established close ties with Silicon Valley’s Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“We look forward to collaborating with U-M’s research faculty and students to develop new intelligent technologies that will help drivers travel more safely, securely and efficiently,” said Gill Pratt, the head of the Toyota research program. “We will also focus on expanding the benefit of mobility technology to in-home support of older persons and those with special needs.”
Until recently, Toyota had downplayed the need to develop fully self-driving vehicles, focusing instead on driver-assistance technologies such as forward collision warning. But it found itself lagging behind traditional competitors, such as General Motors and Volkswagen, as well as new players like Google and Tesla Motors, and has since made autonomous driving one of its key technology targets.
It is also working on robotic designs and other technologies that can enhance mobility for the elderly and handicapped.
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