Toyota Motor will establish Research Institute (TRI) as an R&D unit focused initially on artificial intelligence and robotics. It will be based in Silicon Valley near Stanford University in Palo Alto, California with a second facility near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The new company will begin operations in January 2016. Toyota said it believes artificial intelligence has significant potential to support future industrial technologies and the creation of an entirely new industry. It is backing this up with an initial spend of US$1bn over the next five years to establish and staff the two initial locations and conduct operations. The spend is on top of the $50m allocated over the next five years for MIT and Stanford to establish joint fundamental artificial intelligence research centres at each university. TRI will help bridge the gap between fundamental research and product development. Its primary taks is to accelerate R&D in a range of fields to help resolve society's future challenges by using artificial intelligence and big data.
Directed by Gill Pratt, Toyota's executive technical advisor and the chief executive officer of the new enterprise, TRI will hire leading researchers and engineers to support its wide range of activities. Pratt said: "Our initial goals are to: improve safety by continuously decreasing the likelihood that a car will be involved in an accident; make driving accessible to everyone, regardless of ability; and apply Toyota technology used for outdoor mobility to indoor environments, particularly for the support of seniors. We also plan to apply our work more broadly, for example to improve production efficiency and accelerate scientific discovery in materials." Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor , said: "As technology continues to progress, so does our ability to improve products. At Toyota, we do not pursue innovation simply because we can; we pursue it because we should. It is our responsibility to make life better for our customers, and society as a whole. I want to work with Gill, not just because he is a great researcher, but because I believe that his goals and motivations are the same as ours."