The automotive industry has been on the forefront of artificial intelligence and robotics for decades. In fact, many tasks along conveyor belts these days are manned by robotic arms, not people.
That's a good thing, as least in terms of keeping people safe from heavy equipment and moving parts. Robots are also tireless and efficient.
Now, Toyota is taking a big leap forward in developing artificial intelligence and robots. The Japanese-based company is partnering with two U.S. universities to develop technology that may include driverless cars.
Toyota is investing $1 billion over the next five years to do just that. (Toyota had previously said it would spend $50 million.) It'll first build a plant in Silicon Valley in partnership with Stanford University, followed by another facility in Massachusetts in partnership with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
These Toyota Research Institutes will develop robotics, artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles. TRI's main focus is likely to be on developing systems to help elderly people, and to prevent car accidents, according to Gill Pratt, who'll run TRI.
Toyota has previously developed robots that can run and play music. They've also developed robots that can help disabled people to move around.