While Google launched a self-driving pod car, Audi debuted its RS 7 on the Sonoma Raceway. And both did a pretty good job, but their only glitch was that the vehicles they made were smart, not intelligent.
Every autonomous conveyance made to date has relied on programming for its decisions. And if a situation it faced was not written down and embedded into its software, the vehicle was helpless. A possible solution to this is artificial intelligence, which can be used for futuristic robot cars. Toyota announced at a recent press conference that they would be taking the initial steps to develop just that.
The Japanese carmaker, at a Palo Alto meet, revealed its plan of investing $50 million in the coming five years to set up joint research centers at Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The researchers will work towards creating artificially intelligent systems and find out how they can be utilized for futuristic self-driving four-wheelers.
This combined effort will not only improve the ability of vehicles to identify objects and provide an “elevated judgment” of sorts, but it will also allow it to interact safely with pedestrians and other vehicles, informed recent Toyota employee, Dr. Gill Pratt. Prior to this, he led the robotics team at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
While reducing crashes and increasing efficiency will be their primary focus, Toyota also believes that this technology might provide mobility to a larger number of people. For instance, disabled and elderly people who are unable to drive could benefit and gain a lot of independence. The company adds that it will also be helpful in the health care department.
Although they did not discuss specifics, Pratt noted that this announcement is different from all other efforts Toyota has taken in the past to create an autonomous prototype.
Edelstein, S., “Toyota Announces Artificial Intelligence Research Collaboration with MIT and Stanford,” Digital Trends web site, September 4, 2015.