Toyota is out to prove it’s not just a car company. It’s pouring more money into R&D to develop big picture mobility solutions, as well as develop safe, autonomous cars for the road.
The automaker thinks the way to do that is by using robotics and artificial intelligence. To that end, the Toyota Research Institute is giving the University of Michigan $22 million to speed up artificial intelligence and robotics R&D. The money will be spent over four years and some of it also goes towards self-driving tech.
One goal of Toyota’s, beyond advancing safety technology on the road, is to help improve the quality of life for people who may not be as mobile as they’d like to be. Like seniors, for example, who can’t drive anymore or may need help getting around at home.
As part of this agreement, U-M will issue a broad call for proposals from faculty across the university to address challenges in mobility, safety and home robotics.
Toyota already operates several TRI centers at the university. It’s one of the top grad schools in the country in Artificial Intelligence studies. The campus is also home to MCity, a self-driving vehicle testing ground used by several automakers.
University of Michigan robotics professors Ryan Eustice and Ed Olson will be at the helm of the new research.
Toyota launched the institute in 2016 with four goals. Its mission is to make vehicles safer, increase access to cars for people who otherwise can’t drive, create indoor mobility solutions and use artificial intelligence and machine learning to speed up development.
The Toyota Research Institute also has partnerships with Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.