Toyota is Taking Vehicle Automation Seriously

September 8, 2015 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , , , , , ,

After hearing from Toyota about their future plans for vehicle automation, it’s clear that they don’t plan on releasing a fully-autonomous vehicle anytime soon, but they are betting heavily on succeeding in creating a viable product in the future. They’ve committed about $50 million on the venture, and are actively working on developing technology that will help it compete with the likes of Google, Audi and a variety of other automation leaders.

dr gill pratt

Teaming up with MIT and Stanford

Toyota is teaming up with MIT and Stanford to try and develop artificial intelligence that will go toward vehicle automation as well as robotics. That’s where the $50 million investment is going, and it’s through this partnership that Toyota is hoping to get the answers that it needs to common automation challenges. Most of these answers should come through developed artificial intelligence.

Bringing on a Technical Legend

To help oversee the automation and AI project Toyota brought on Dr. Gill A. Pratt, the former manager of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency¬† or DARPA, and the leader of the well-known Robotics Challenge events. With Pratt at the helm of the project there’s no doubt that it’s going to move along toward a successful completion, but he says that full automation is a very difficult task.

Reaching Fully Autonomous is the Difficult Part

Pratt says that while it’s possible to create a vehicle that can handle driving without passenger intervention most of the time, getting that last little bit of automation in so the driver doesn’t have to intervene at all is by far the most challenging. The main issue is that people are always going to be involved.

Without People the Solution is Simple

Pratt states that people add in an element of the unknown to the whole equation. Whether you are talking about pedestrians, bike riders, or drivers who don’t have autonomous vehicles yet you’re going to have that element of unknown that can’t be predicted and that makes programming a vehicle to respond effectively all the time really challenging.

Getting going with all the research should help Toyota develop their autonomous technology and get a solid base to build off of. It’s hard to say if it will be enough to allow them to launch autonomous products before the likes of Google, or Audi, but they’re certainly on the right path.

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