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toyota driverless car

Toyota to invest $3 billion in driverless car company

Toyota is establishing a new company to develop autonomous driving technologies and says it will invest almost $3 billion into it. 

The new company will be based in Tokyo and will start operating later this month. It will be named “Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development” (TRI-AD), and will accelerate the company’s efforts in “advanced development for automated driving”.

To enable the new efforts at TRI-AD, Toyota Motor Corporation, Aisin Seiki, and Denso have reached a provisional agreement on the joint development of fully-integrated, production-quality software for automated driving. 

Going forward, the three companies will hold further discussions, aiming to conclude a concrete joint development contract.

Together, TMC, Aisin and Denso plan to invest more than $2.8 billion in TRI-AD.

The new company is targeting a staff of approximately 1,000 employees, including external recruitment and staff from TMC, TRI, and Toyota Group Companies Aisin and Denso.

Toyota is in the process of selecting a location in Tokyo that is competitive in terms of accessibility and recruitment.

Dr James Kuffner, currently TRI chief technology officer, will lead TRI-AD as its CEO.

Dr Kuffner says: “Building production-quality software is a critical success factor for Toyota’s automated driving program.

“This company’s mission is to accelerate software development in a more effective and disruptive way, by augmenting the Toyota Group’s capability through the hiring of world-class software engineers. We will recruit globally, and I am thrilled to lead this effort.”

The automotive industry is now in an era of profound transformation. High-quality software development and big data from connected vehicles will be crucial to success.

To respond to such changes, Toyota established Toyota Research Institute in North America in 2016 to conduct research in the areas of artificial intelligence, automated driving, and robotics.

Toyota, together with Aisin and Denso, decided to establish the new company with the aim of strengthening its competitiveness even further.

TRI, TRI-AD and TMC will have a streamlined relationship, resulting in a fast-track, truly integrated development model, says Toyota.

The key objectives of the new company include the following:

  • Create a smooth software pipeline from research-to-commercialization, leveraging data-handling capabilities.
  • Strengthen coordination with TRI and efficiently link research results to product development.
  • Strengthen the collaboration within the Toyota Group in the domains of research and advanced development.
  • Recruit and employ top-level engineers globally, while cultivating and coordinating the strong talent within the Toyota Group.

Dr Gill Pratt, TMC Fellow, TRI CEO and chairman of the new TRI-AD board of directors, says: “Toyota is known for the quality and efficiency of the Toyota Production System (TPS).

“I have no doubt that we can translate the fundamental ideas of TPS from the production of hardware to the production of software, and dramatically enhance Toyota’s software capabilities.

“That’s what TRI has been working for, and that’s what the new company will push even further.”