Toyota plans to open a new research hub for self-driving cars in the state of Michigan.
According to Auto News, Toyota Research Institute has announced on Thursday, April 7, that their in-house R&D division is setting up a location in Michigan. This would be Toyota's third such facility in the United States.
All the Toyota autonomous vehicle research bases are tied to elite universities specialized in self-driving cars and artificial intelligence. Toyota already has similar centers with Stanford University in Silicon Valley and MIT in Cambridge, Mass.
Toyota Motor Corp. announced that its third Toyota Research Institute (TRI) facility will be located in Ann Arbor, Mich., near the University of Michigan campus, according to Forbes. The chosen location is in an area of western exurban Detroit competing with Silicon Valley to become a top hub for the autonomous automobiles industry.
Ahead of the announcement, Gill Pratt, CEO of TRI, said that "Toyota has deep roots in the Ann Arbor community," beyond the research that the University of Michigan is doing in advancing research in autonomous driving and automotive safety. Mr Pratt made his announcement at a conference in Silicon Valley, during a keynote address.
According to the same publication, the Ann Arbor location will become home to about 50 employees and it is scheduled to open in June. Toyota will transfer to the Ann Arbor research hub 15 employees from the Technical Center in nearby York Township. The company is been researching autonomous cars in the Technical Center in York Township for more than a decade.
The TRI in Ann Arbor will be also joined by a pair of Michigan engineering faculty members. The two area leads are Edwin Olson, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science and Ryan Eustice, an associate professor of naval architecture and marine engineering.
The TRI was established in late 2015. The project is part a $1 billion program over the next five years with the aim to improve Toyota's autonomous vehicle and robotics know-how, programming software and artificial intelligence.
The research group is also developing mobility solutions for people unable to drive and an autonomous vehicle incapable of causing a crash. According to Bloomberg, Mr Pratt said that "co-opetition" among automakers is key to saving each year over one million lives lost worldwide to traffic fatalities.
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