Toyota Research Institute is to deploy $22 million to support University of Michigan in the next four years to boost research and development in artificial intelligence, autonomous driving and robotics
The Chief Executive Officer of the Institute, Gill Pratt said the Institute “has long enjoyed an excellent working relationship with the University of Michigan” and will continue to support “collective efforts” to advance mobility.
He said: “We look forward to collaborating with U-M’s research faculty and students to develop new intelligent technologies,” Pratt said. “We will also focus on expanding the benefit of mobility technology to in-home support of older persons and those with special needs.”
A Toyota spokesman said U-M robotics professors Ryan Eustice and Edwin Olson are “basically responsible” for the fully autonomous vehicle programme at the Toyota Research Institute in Ann Arbor, which opened in April. The professors’ work will be the initial beneficiary of the investment, the spokesman said, as they continue to do research at the institute and teach part-time at the university.
To hold up its end of the bargain, U-M professors are expected to submit project proposals to be funded with the $22 million. Research will be focused on enhanced driving safety, partner robotics, indoor mobility, autonomous driving and student learning.
Toyota said in a statement that it invested in the partnership with U-M because the university already established a strong research base for high-level, driver-assist systems, pushing into the space of autonomous driving.
Additionally, Toyota already has two technical centers in Ann Arbor, which work with the university on connected vehicle and safety research. Toyota previously invested in U-M’s Mobility Transformation Center as a founding partner.
The Toyota Research Institute is a unit of Toyota Motor North America. Toyota has additional research centers in Palo Alto, Calif., where the automaker works with Stanford University, and in Cambridge, Mass., where it works with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology