Toyota Set To Spend $22 Million On Self Driving Cars

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Toyota Motor Corp.’s Ann Arbor based research hub will invest an initial $22 million to work with the University of Michigan on artificial intelligence, robotics and self-driving cars.

The Japanese automaker said earlier this year that it invested $1 billion to create the Toyota Research Institute, a research subsidiary with locations in California, Massachusets and Ann Arbor.

The latest investment, announced Wednesday after a meeting with UM faculty, will be spread over four years for research collaborations in the areas of enhanced driving safety, partner robotics and indoor mobility, autonomous driving and student learning and diversity.

“We look forward to collaborating with U-M’s research faculty and students to develop new intelligent technologies that will help drivers travel more safely, securely and efficiently,” Toyota Research Institute CEO Gill Pratt said in a statement. “We will also focus on expanding the benefit of mobility technology to in-home support of older persons and those with special needs.”

National Manager for Advanced Technology and new business at Toyota, John Hanson, said the automaker likely would invest more than the initial $22 million.

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“We’re looking for a long-term relationship,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is create a very intelligent car that is incapable of causing a crash. It means we have to be perfect, and getting perfect is going to take awhile.”

Toyota in April announced the creation of the TRI Ann Arbor location. The company hired UM engineering associate professors Ryan Eustice and Edwin Olson to staff the site.

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