Cars are either going to poison us with secret emissions or just drive themselves, so it’s no surprise that car manufacturers are looking to branch out. In Toyota’s case, that takes the form of a $1 billion investment in a Silicon Valley AI research center.
The new Toyota Research Institute will be located near Stanford in Silicon Valley, with 200 employees working on a range of robotics and AI research, not just limited to cars. The head of the facility, Giles Pratt, told the AP that “the company’s goals are to support older people in homes, not just outdoors, with robotics, as well as making cars free of accidents and having everyone driving regardless of ability.”
So, while everyone’s speculating about Apple and Google building cars, it looks like Toyota might be quietly infringing on the electronics giant’s turf. There’s no timeline for when we might see an actual product out of the facility, but $1 billion in cash seems to indicate more than a sideline hobby.