Toyota is creating a new company that is entirely focused on automated driving. The spinoff in Tokyo, called Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development (TRI-AD), will be creating software for self-driving technology. They’ll be focusing on both driver assistance and fully autonomous cars as they look to keep all production in-house.
$2.8 billion will be invested in TRI-AD and the company expects to hire around 1,000 employers over the next couple years. It will be a branch of the Toyota Research Institute that was first created in North America back in 2016. This was established to explore artificial intelligence in vehicles and robotics.
Advanced Development will be handling data collected from autonomous vehicle testing and will translate it from research to commercialization. This means they’ll be creating the self-driving software based on what they learn in product development. On a worldwide scale, they're looking to bring high-level engineers to their workplace.
Perhaps the Japanese automaker will be looking further into their new “Concept-i” vehicle. This self-driving car is expected to have artificial intelligence that will learn through interaction with the driver. For example, the vehicle will set its autonomy level based on the driver’s mood. It will also be accessible to many, including those in wheelchairs.
Dr. James Kuffner, formerly the chief technology officer at Toyota Research Institute, will become the CEO at the new Advanced Development branch. "Building production-quality software is a critical success factor for Toyota's automated driving program," Kuffner said in a press release.
"This company's mission is to accelerate software development in a more effective and disruptive way, by augmenting the Toyota Group's capability through the hiring of world-class software engineers. We will recruit globally, and I am thrilled to lead this effort."
Toyota has taken the rare approach to keeping everything in-house when other auto manufacturers have linked together with other companies. Waymo has shopped around their self-driving product development and has partnered with Fiat-Chrysler. Ford invested $1 billion into a new AI startup called Argo.
The Japanese automaker has been very ambitious in self-driving technology and producing greener electric vehicles. They’re still looking to utilize hydrogen fuel cells and they’re planning to create the world’s first facility that generates 100 percent renewable hydrogen. They plan on doing this by capturing methane gas emitted by cattle.