A great way to understand the future priorities for a company is to see where they invest resources. When you look at where Toyota, the Japanese industry giant, has recently invested, it’s clear the company is preparing to remain relevant and competitive in the 4th industrial revolution as a result of its investments and innovation in artificial intelligence, big data and robots.
Toyota AI Ventures Invests in AI Start-ups
With initial funding of $100 million, Toyota AI Ventures invests in tech start-ups and entrepreneurs around the world that are committed to autonomous mobility, data and robotics. Toyota’s investments help accelerate getting critical new technologies to market. One of the organization’s investments is in May Mobility, a company that is developing self-driving shuttles for college campuses and other areas such as central business districts where low-speed applications are warranted. This is just one of the services that could blaze a trail to fully autonomous vehicles of the future.
Additionally, Silicon-based Toyota AI Ventures contributed funding as well as mentorship, incubation facilities and validation to Nauto, a company that’s creating a shared data platform to prevent accidents caused by distracted driving; SLAMcore, a visual tracking and mapping algorithm developer for smart tech; Intuition Robotics, an organization that creates social companion technologies that are accessible and intuitive for seniors; Boxbot, a company that’s building self-driving delivery robots; and more. Like many disruptors, Toyota AI Ventures seeks out other innovators to tackle important challenges to propel the latest technologies.
AI Enhancements to Automobiles
Innovation has always been omnipresent at Toyota from its earliest days and it’s clear the company is continuing that innovative tradition. While Toyota was originally a company that produced wooden hand looms, the majority of people know the company for its automobile division. Their aim is to use artificial intelligence (AI) technology to make “cars an object of affection again” as soon as 2020 and is investing $1 billion in self-driving cars and AI between now and then to achieve it. Through Toyota’s investments in tech start-ups such as Perceptive Automata it hopes to create the technology to allow autonomous vehicles more human-like intuition when they are on the road more similar to how human drivers interact with pedestrians.
Toyota’s Concept-i fully electric autonomous vehicles demonstrate the company’s “Learn, Protect, Inspire” philosophy. The Concept-i artificial intelligence system, nicknamed “Yui,” learns about its driver by listening to conversations, monitoring social media activity and schedules, and analyzing facial expressions and driving habits to sense when a driver might be sleepy or stressed or what might enhance the driver’s comfort and then adjusts lighting, music or to the seats accordingly. The full vision is “intelligent talking cars” where cars equipped with AI can have conversations back and forth with passengers.
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