Toyota to invest $1bn in driverless tech to help "resolve society's future challenges"

Car manufacturer Toyota has announced plans to invest $1bn into artificial intelligence (AI) and driverless technology.

Based in Silicon Valley, the Toyota Research Institute (TRI) is to begin operation in January 2016 with a second facility based near Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The mission statement of TRI is to "bridge the gap between fundamental research and product development:" It aims to do that by accelerating research and development in areas that will help "resolve society's future challenges".

Dr Gill Pratt, TRI's chief executive officer, commented: "Our initial goals are to improve safety by continuously decreasing the likelihood that a car will be involved in an accident, make driving accessible to everyone, regardless of ability; and apply Toyota technology used for outdoor mobility to indoor environments, particular for the support of seniors."

Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corporation, said: "As technology continues to progress so does our ability to improve products. At Toyota, we do not pursue innovation simply because we can; we pursue it because we should. It is our responsibility to make life better for our customers, and society as a whole."

Dr Pratt, added that TRI will explore how AI can make driving simpler and safer investing $1bn over the course of five years. The announcement follows Volvo's partnership with big data analytics company Inrix to provide drivers with "the first live, real-time traffic service".

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