Toyota Pledges $50M To Research AI For Autonomous Vehicles, Hires DARPA’s Dr. Gill Pratt

Today, Toyota announced that it has hired Gill Pratt to drive its autonomous car research. Pratt is best known in this field for his work at DARPA and MIT, including starting the Robotics Challenge. The company is also investing $50 million in the research over the next five years as well as partnering with MIT and Stanford.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAKxAAAAJDI5YjM4ZWM1LTFmOTgtNGEwNS04YmM3LTNiMWI4NmJiMjY2MQPratt has spent the past five years with DARPA, and laid out what’s important for Toyota at an event in Palo Alto today: “Our long-term goal is to make a car that is never responsible for a crash.”

Pratt will serve as Toyota’s “Executive Technical Advisor” on the research.

This all sounds similar to what Google is up to, but Toyota says it’s not in the business of building a self-driving car. Yet.

On joining Toyota, Dr. Pratt said:

It became clear to me that this was the place to have the greatest impact of applying the technology that I’ve been working on for the last few decades, both in my academic career and at DARPA, to really improve the human condition.

The more the merrier. We want our self-driving cars. If Toyota is as committed to self-driving tech as they are putting a zillion Priuses on the road, then we’re set.