A Toyota Prius Hannelore Foerster, Getty Images

Toyota Pours $1 Billion into AI Research

The Toyota Research Institute will be headquartered in Silicon Valley near Stanford University, with a second facility near MIT.

Toyota is serious about artificial intelligence: The Japanese automaker will establish a new $1 billion A.I. research and development unit in Silicon Valley.

“Toyota believes artificial intelligence has significant potential to support future industrial technologies and the creation of an entirely new industry,” the company said in a statement. “To underscore this belief, it is making an initial investment of $1 billion over the next five years.”

Toyota Research Institute Inc., will be headquartered in Silicon Valley near Stanford University, and a second facility will be located near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), with operation starting in January.

The announcement comes as automakers have been vying to develop autonomous driving technologies that rely heavily on advances in artificial intelligence. Google has been testing self-driving cars in Silicon Valley, as have Tesla and General Motors. Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and Nissan have also set up engineering centers near Google’s headquarters in Silicon Valley to focus on autonomous driving technologies.

Toyota reaffirmed it will separately invest $50 million over the next five years with MIT and Stanford “to establish joint fundamental artificial intelligence research centers at each university.”

Headed by Gill Pratt, former program manager in the Defense Science Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, TRI will focus on technologies “using artificial intelligence and big data,” according to Toyota.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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