Toyota Expands Battery R&D For EV; Is AI A Significant Tool?

Apr 03, 2017 10:20 AM EDT | Gerone Trish

Toyota is reportedly expanding its research and development on how to create more improved batteries for electric vehicles. The automaker will partner with various universities to check the significance of artificial intelligence in the project.

Toyota is ready to invest $35 million for the said expansion project. The automaker plans to establish partnerships with various universities to do the research and development, aiming to produce better quality batteries for electric vehicles.

The partnership will initially begin with Stanford University, University of Michigan, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Connecticut and State University of New York at Buffalo. Toyota will also partner with Ilika, the materials science company based in the United Kingdom.

Interestingly, the project will make use of artificial intelligence to test possible solutions. Aside from the AI, the project also aims to look at other potential materials that can be used to produce the better quality batteries.

Currently, lithium-ion batteries are empowering the plug-in hybrid and electric vehicle batteries. According to Brian Storey, Toyota Research Institute program manager, they will try to explore other materials for EV batteries. The manager specified they will check if magnesium is a viable material substitute. Brian Storey's office is based in Los Altos, California while there are also other offices in Ann Arbor and Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Brian Storey also detailed that the lithium-ion technology has begun nearly 40 years ago. Yet he also emphasized that it is only now that they are trying to perfect the technology.

Toyota mentioned that the project does not just aim to produce better quality batteries. The researchers will also try to explore new technologies to speed up the development of the new materials.

Meanwhile, Toyota plans to invest $2.4 million at the University of Michigan. The school is tasked to create computer simulation tools to determine in advance the performance of the battery.

Krishna Garikipati, University of Michigan professor of mechanical engineering and mathematics, released a statement saying they are looking forward to the partnership with Toyota Research Institute. The university is especially excited with the partnership to use machine learning principles in this project to advance computational materials science.

Reports say that Toyota Research Institute is continually pursuing more partners to expand further the research and development. We will update you with more progress in our next report.

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