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Meet the man who will bring autonomous Toyota cars to the masses

Dr. Gill Pratt from DARPA will head Toyota’s bi-coastal team.

Toyota has had autonomous cars for a number of years. In addition, Google and other groups experimenting with driverless cars have used Toyota Prius and Lexus RX vehicles for the most part. After all, if you are going to automate a car or crossover, why not start with the most reliable, safest, and most widely sold vehicle in the market? This week Toyota announced it will be funding a $50 million endeavor at both MIT and Stanford. The man who will coordinate this autonomous car commercialization program is Dr. Gill Pratt.

Dr. Pratt has a bit of experience in the area. He was with DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), where he served as program manager for about six years. Dr. Pratt won’t need directions to MIT. He spent ten years there earning a Ph.D. and now lives in the area. Prior to the Toyota announcement he was a professor and associate dean of faculty affairs and research at Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering in Needham, Mass.

Announcing the new program, Kiyotaka Ise, TMC Senior Managing Officer and Chief Officer, R&D Group, said: “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. This partnership, directed by Dr. Pratt, is a great opportunity to work with two leading research teams from two top universities. I am very excited about what this new venture means for Toyota, and I look forward to more announcements in the future.”

The project has a five-year funding duration.

Image of Dr. Pratt courtesy of Linked In.