Toyota to invest $1bn on self-driving technologies and AI

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Toyota will reportedly invest $1 billion over the next five years on self-driving technologies, artificial intelligence (AI) and technology that will help improve vehicle safety.

According to NBC, Toyota aims to improve vehicle safety by enabling vehicles to identify, predict and avoid potential accident situations. The company is also planning to bring out a self-driving car by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Gill Pratt, CEO of recently set up Toyota Research Institute (TRI), said: “Some of the things that are in car safety, which is a near-term priority, I'm very confident that we will have some advances come out during the next five years.”

The current driver assistance systems mainly use image sensors to avoid obstacles within the car’s lane, but Pratt said TRI was looking at artificial intelligence to enable “the car to be evasive beyond the one lane.”

According to NBC, the autonomous vehicle – which it calls the “guardian angel” – will drive alongside the human driver, and will be capable of taking control if it senses potential danger.

Apart from Toyota, automakers such as Ford, Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Tesla, and others are also working on self-driving technology.  Toyota is also concerned about the rapidly aging society which it says to put the future demand for private vehicle ownership at risk. Pratt said that the company will one day become a maker of robots to help the elderly.

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