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Toyota Commits $22 Million to University of Michigan for AI Research

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Toyota announces $50 million in funding partnership with MIT and Stanford University for artificial intelligence research collaboration.

Dr. Gill Pratt, CEO of the Toyota Research Institute.

The University of Michigan (UM) will receive a major boost in its research on artificial intelligence, robotics, and autonomous driving thanks to a $22 million commitment by the Toyota Research Institute (TRI).

Yesterday, TRI CEO Gill Pratt addressed the UM faculty as they closed out the deal. TRI will provide $22 million to the university over four years for research collaboration in areas of partner robotics, autonomous driving, indoor mobility, enhanced driver safety, and student learning and diversity.

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

This follows the recent establishment of a new TRI research facility in Ann Arbor where UM robotics professors Edwin Olson and Ryan Eustice are involved in autonomous vehicle research. The location also has added convenience thanks to the proximity of two well-established Toyota Technical Center campuses.

This isn’t the first time Toyota collaborates with UM. The automaker helped the university develop its Mobility Transformation Center (MTC), which includes a 32-acre “mini-city” where emerging vehicle technologies can be tested in a safe environment.

The ultimate goal of the new $22 million deal is to find ways robotics can improve quality of life not just behind the wheel of a car but also in various situations and circumstances, like at home, particularly for people with disabilities.

Autonomous driving, robotics, and artificial intelligence are all closely related; in fact, one could argue that you cannot have one without the other two, so it’s no surprise Toyota is attempting to strike all three birds with a single stone.