- Toyota, reversed its idle position and today said it plans to develop an R&D company in Silicon Valley focused on AI and self-driving cars. The company said it will invest $1 billion in the new company over the next five years.
- Toyota's Akio Toyoda said: "...I changed my mind after I got involved with planning of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games (in Tokyo)" which brought awareness to the need for cars for people with disabilities and the elderly.
- The new company plans to hire about 200 workers and will work to speed up research and development in AI and big data, Toyota said.
"As (Toyota vehicles around the world) travel, they produce a tremendous amount of information. Information about the vehicle, information about the environment and the information about the driver," said Gill Pratt, a former MIT professor appointed CEO of Toyota Research Institute. "We can use that information for tremendous social good. It is the key to accelerate the evolution of our future technology."
Google and Apple have recently made big moves in the self-driving car industry as well. The two companies say they envision self-driving cars becoming reality within the next five years.