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News   March 22, 2018   by Danielle Oswald

Toyota to establish new self-driving vehicle company

Toyota is looking to raise the bar when it comes to self-driving vehicles. It has paired with Toyota Group Companies, Aisin Seiki and Denso, to create a new group based in Tokyo called, ‘Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development’ (TRI-AD).

The goal of the TRI-AD is to further accelerate Toyota’s efforts in automated driving. It wants to develop a fully-integrated, production quality software for self-driving cars. Toyota created the ‘Toyota Research Institute, Inc.’ In 2016 to conduct research in artificial intelligence, automated driving, and robotics because it is essential to the future outcome of autonomous vehicles.

“Building production-quality software is a critical success factor for Toyota’s automated driving program,” said Kuffner, Toyota Research Institute (TRI) chief technology officer and TRI-AD chief executive officer.

TRI-AD will target development of “production-quality software for automated driving,” partly by harnessing big data collected from connected vehicles, Toyota said. The hope is that the combination of the three companies will make the process more efficient, the group predicts it can succeed at this with the addition of more employees and with the larger budget.

The group is planning on investing $2.8 million into the company. The company said that they will start with around 300 employees and hopefully arrive at their target staff of 1,000 people.

According to Toyota, the key four objectives for the new company are to:

  • Create a smooth software pipeline from research-to-commercialization, leveraging data-handling capabilities
  • Strengthen coordination with TRI and efficiently link research results to product development
  • Strengthen the collaboration within the Toyota Group in the domains of research and advanced development
  • Recruit and employ top-level engineers globally, while cultivating and coordinating the strong talent within the Toyota Group

The company says it wants to introduce vehicles capable of driving themselves on highways by around 2020. It is all part of the goal that Toyota has set for itself to introduce safe and efficient self-driving vehicles to the public as soon as possible.

“Toyota is known for the quality and efficiency of the Toyota Production System. I have no doubt that we can translate the fundamental ideas of TPS from the production of hardware to the production of software, and dramatically enhance Toyota’s software capabilities,” said Gill Pratt, TMC Fellow, TRI chief executive officer and chairman of the new TRI-AD board of directors. “That’s what TRI has been working for, and that’s what the new company will push even further.”

Even though the company will be based out of Tokyo, the set business language will be English. TRI-AD is still searching for a specific location for the team that is competitive in its accessibility and recruitment. Kuffner said in a statement, “We will recruit globally, 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.”

The company will be led by Dr. James Kuffner, current chief technology officer of Toyota Research Institute (TRI). The shape of some of the team today is James Kuffner, chief executive officer and representative director, Gill A. Pratt, chairman of the board of directors, Hiroaki Okuchi, representative director, Ken Koibuchi, director, and Tatsuro Ueda, auditor, according to Toyota.

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