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Toyota solidifies its commitment to future autonomous technology

Toyota forms new Silicon Valley and MIT focused company to move autonomous driving technology forward.

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Automobile technology is acquired by a automakers in three main ways. Often automakers will look to a specialty supplier for help with things like transmissions (ZF), stability control (Bosch), and infotainment systems (Bose). Second, an automaker will produce under license a needed safety technology such as forward collision prevention systems. Finally, automakers will work to solve a technology challenge on their own and then use the products of that endeavor. Toyota leans heavily toward the latter and has announced that it will form a new corporation to push forward autonomous driving technology.

The new corporation will be called the Toyota Research Institute Inc. (TRI). There will be two campuses for the new R&D company. One will be located in Silicon Valley near Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, U.S.A. A second will be located near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

The company will be headed by Dr. Gill Pratt, presently based in Mass., whom we have reported on previously. Dr. Pratt laid out the goals of the new entity in a statement, saying, “Our initial goals are to: 1) improve safety by continuously decreasing the likelihood that a car will be involved in an accident; 2) make driving accessible to everyone, regardless of ability; and 3) 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.”

The new entity plans to begin operations in about eight weeks, just after the new year.

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