Toyota announced today, that it is teaming up with Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to gain a competitive edge in development of self driving cars. To cement this relationship, Toyota is investing $AUD71 million ($US50 million) over the next five years to fund development and research activities in joint research labs at Silicon Valley and Cambridge, Massachusetts.
To do this, Toyota has hired the expertise of robotics guru Gill Pratt to direct the research aimed at developing artificial intelligence and innovative technology that will enable future cars to drive and navigate without human interaction or involvement.
Hot on their heels though are un-expected tech companies Google and Uber who are competing against the traditional car manufacturers for robotic cars that will be superior drivers to people thereby reduce accidents and save lives.
In fact Google, the worlds leading search and online giant, has been developing self-drive technology for the last six years and in fact has this technology on the road with their Google mapping self-driving cars.
By 2020, Google hopes to have commercially available cars for general public consumption.
Uber on the other hand, has partnered with Carnegie Mellon University on a Pittsburgh research center to develop and build build driver-less cars that it will initially use for it’s `taxi’ services and then offer to the public.
Toyota has a less ambitious view and feels that a totally driver-less car is beyond the next decade.
Toyota is therefore more focused on smarter cars with increased independence of humans with breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and robotics. Before introducing fully driver-less cars, Toyota wants to ensure that safety systems are developed that steer, navigate and warn drivers of dangers.