HOUSTON — Japanese automaker Toyota will be investing approximately USD 50 million over to the next five years to set up joint research centers at Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for developing "intelligent" self-driving cars.
The two research centers will focus on using technology to make driving safer by inventing ways for cars to recognise their surroundings and make decisions that avert potential accidents.
"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," Toyota's Senior Managing Officer Kiyotaka Ise said in a statement.
Toyota has tapped Gill Pratt, former Program Manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the Pentagon and leader of its recent Robotics Challenge, to direct the effort.
"This bold collaboration will address extremely complex mobility challenges using ground breaking artificial intelligence research. I'm thrilled to be a part of the synergies and talent sharing of Toyota, MIT, and Stanford," Pratt said.
The researchers aim at developing intelligent vehicle technologies that can better "recognize objects around the vehicle in diverse environments, provide elevated judgement of surrounding conditions, and safely collaborate with vehicle occupants, other vehicles, and pedestrians," he added.
Electrical engineering and computer science Professor Daniela Rus will lead research at MIT while Fei-Fei Li, director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, will head up the effort there.
"Our team will work to help intelligent vehicles recognize objects in the road, predict behaviours of things and people, and make safe and smart driving decisions under diverse conditions," Li said.