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Toyota Aims For AI Car Features By 2021

Toyota is the latest automaker to announce a timeline for including self-driving features in its vehicles. Within the next five years, the company expects to add driver assistance systems into its vehicles to perform safety-related maneuvers designed to avoid collisions.

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Toyota Motor is planning to integrate various self-driving features into its vehicles within the next five years. The latest announcement comes as the company seeks to leverage its $1 billion investment in autonomous vehicle research, and stay in the game as its competitors race toward putting self-driving cars on the road.

In the years leading up to 2021, Toyota expects to add driver assistance systems into its vehicles. Such systems perform safety-related maneuvers designed to avoid collisions, Gill Pratt, Toyota Research Institute (TRI) CEO, told Reuters.

"The intelligence of the car would figure out a plan for evasive action … Essentially (it would) be like a guardian angel, pushing on the accelerators, pushing on the steering wheel, pushing on the brake in parallel with you," Pratt told Reuters.

[Forget self-driving cars. What about solar-powered aircraft? Read Solar Impulse 2: 11 Images From Its Awe-Inspiring Journey.]

This type of "guardian angel" driving is being developed in the TRI in Palo Alto, Calif., one of three such centers the automaker has opened since last year. In an announcement earlier this year, the company explained the focus of each of its TRI locations. The Palo Alto TRI focuses on assisting drivers when needed. Its TRI center in Ann Arbor, Mich., will delve into fully autonomous driving, while its TRI center in Cambridge, Mass., will focus on deep machine learning and simulation.

Dr. Gill Pratt (far left), Toyota executive technical advisor and CEO of Toyota Research Institute (TRI), and Chuck Gulash (far right), head of Toyota's Collaborative Research Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., moderated a panel discussion with the new TRI technical team at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Jan. 5, 2016.
(Image: Kathryn Rapier courtesy of Toyota USA)

Dr. Gill Pratt (far left), Toyota executive technical advisor and CEO of Toyota Research Institute (TRI), and Chuck Gulash (far right), head of Toyota's Collaborative Research Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., moderated a panel discussion with the new TRI technical team at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Jan. 5, 2016.

(Image: Kathryn Rapier courtesy of Toyota USA)

When Toyota announced its $1 billion investment to create TRI centers, it emphasized that its use of AI and robotics would extend well beyond the self-driving car, and include uses in the home and other applications. Although Toyota relies on vehicle sales to drive its business, it is also apparently considering ways to develop other sources of revenue in light of aging populations in the US and Japan.

For example, self-driving cars could serve as a useful tool for those whose mobility is restricted. Toyota may be banking on the notion that having other automated, machine learning devices in the home would also be beneficial.

In the meantime, Toyota is in a race with other automakers and technology titans to get its get self-driving cars on the road.

Nissan, for example, last year announced tests of a driverless prototype car. The company expects to have the vehicle ready to navigate heavy highway traffic by the end of 2016. By 2018, Nissan is aiming to have its test car handle lane changes on multilane highways.

BMW expects to release its self-driving iNEXT electric car in 2021. Autonomous driving pioneer Google and high-end electric carmaker Tesla Motors already have test vehicles out on the road and are seeking to get them fast-tracked to market.

All of this effort aside, how soon will consumers be ready to embrace driverless cars? Perhaps a staged approached to automated driving may be the path to follow.

Dawn Kawamoto is an Associate Editor for Dark Reading, where she covers cybersecurity news and trends. She is an award-winning journalist who has written and edited technology, management, leadership, career, finance, and innovation stories for such publications as CNET's ... View Full Bio

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Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
8/3/2016 | 5:25:31 PM
Re: The future of AI in cars
@SaneIT: Sure.  Some prefer option A, some prefer option B.

Automated vehicles scare the bejeezus out of me though precisely because they do not act like human drivers and operate on their own logic -- which is why they've been involved in so many crashes.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
8/1/2016 | 8:30:22 AM
Re: The future of AI in cars
I think that a lot of people would happily give that up for their daily commute, especially if they could count commute time toward working time.  There are days that my drive home has me thinking about issues that arose during the day and the disconnect from the desk lets me bring in fresh ideas.  I'd love to be able to jot those down as I'm riding home.  I do enjoy driving so I would at least want something to drive normally at least on a part time basis but the daily utility of driving I would gladly give up for a little more productive time.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
7/21/2016 | 10:11:06 AM
Re: The future of AI in cars
@SaneIT: I think the best way to describe the USA is that we have more problems in certain areas than other countries do that are connected to the enhanced freedoms we enjoy.  Driving independently on the open road is one of those things.  Is freedom optimized for safety?  Of course not -- just the way in technology how accessibility and security are mortal foes.  It's just a matter of our values system.

Personally, I like the freedom to be able to drive as a qualified and skilled driver -- and it's not one I would like to give up.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
7/20/2016 | 9:57:09 AM
Re: The future of AI in cars
I would be all for cars that act like trains as a mass transit style of travel.  In the past I envisioned train like vehicles that shuttled multiple cars along a highway much the way that a ferry works on water but if we can have AI driving the cars and acting as one unit it should greatly reduce highway accidents.  I do wonder though how long it will take before human drivers are banned from specific roadways.  Will we ever get to the point where human controlled cars are confined to garages and tracks?
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
7/19/2016 | 4:19:47 PM
Re: The future of AI in cars
Proliferating autonomous cars is an attempt to turn roads and highways into a form of mass transit.

Given that Americans like their cars and dislike mass transit (who, other than hipsters -- who like all things terrible -- actually likes riding on a crowded, dirty, slow subway, train, or bus?), I suspect the AI crowd has their work cut out for them.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
6/28/2016 | 8:04:38 AM
Re: The future of AI in cars
That is along the lines of what I was thinking.  Buses make sense now because you need humans to drive and routes need to be fairly simple because they don't have a logistics system behind them to plan routes that aren't pre-determined.  The first steps may not be an autonomous car in your garage, it may be a service similar to luxury taxi services.  Schedule a pick up time and the car arrives at the specified location at the specified time.  This would be great for people who ride share but need to make a one off trip to run errands or leave early one day.  We've seen Uber change the face of taxi services, I suspect that autonomous vehicles will go even further and will be able to reach into the public transportation systems.  

 

Enjoy the conference, insurance companies should have a lot to say about connected cars and especially autonomous cars.
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
6/27/2016 | 10:52:34 PM
Re: The future of AI in cars
@Joe - I would guess you have lots of company in your way of thinking.  I think personality traits are at work here - those who have difficulty handing over control to others and those with a high internal locus of control (those who think what happens to them is a result of their own actions and not external factors) will likely not be interested in entrusting the car to do the driving.  Like me, for instance.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
6/27/2016 | 11:21:54 AM
Re: The future of AI in cars
SaneIT, 

You have great ideas. You should work in public transport city planning, or something like that. :)  

Did I tell you that I am attending 5G World, Connected Cars, and Insurace Telematics in London this week? 

-Susan 
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
6/27/2016 | 11:15:17 AM
Re: The future of AI in cars
SanaIT, 

With such car, busy parents with kids could have great help when it's time to take kids to school and back. Many may not see th epotential yet, but autonomous cars are going to become a great tool with many applications. 

-Susan
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
6/27/2016 | 7:59:34 AM
Re: The future of AI in cars
I joked recently about some license plates around here.  Motorcycles with a rider under 21 get a plate that really stands out from the crowd.  I want an over 80 plate for cars as a warning system.  Not just for safety though I can see a lot of uses for automated vehicles.  Car sharing for example, a car that can go from stop to stop without needing a licensed driver would be a great tool for many families. 
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