Toyota AI research to building autonomous cars will generate many new technologies for car safety

Toyota is partnering with Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to research artificial intelligence and robotics, work they say will lead to autonomous cars.

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This is one of the more responsible and appropriate approaches in my book. As a futurist I often look at how things could be and I know that there is a long procession of strategic steps and many years to get from here to where I’d like to be and the technology I know I will be using. This is the approach that Toyota is making and I think it will pay major dividends to them as an innovative car manufacturer and industry leader.

They are the world leader when it comes to volume of hybrid cars sold, which was a huge risk back in the day when they were dramatically more expensive than petrol and diesel cars.

By providing incremental improvements in safety and comfort as well as indulgent features like reminding you, perhaps via the IoT, that your fridge says you are running out of milk, automatically opening your garage and perhaps unlocking your front door. They understand that baby steps will allow them to develop, introduce and test the components that will one day create autonomous car, whilst never forgetting that we like to drive.

One of the more important steps to me is recognizing that many car owners are not proficient drivers and that frequently the causes of crashes are fatigue, over confidence, a casual attitude, slow reactions and sometimes an arrogance that says the road rules and traffic signals only apply to other people. Systems that alert the driver of a red light ahead, of cyclists on the side of the road, improve parking efficiency, warn if you blink more than normal or are crossing the centre median strip (which could of course be a legitimate maneuver.

We have been building cars that tolerate crashes better, with crumple zones, anti-skid, ABS braking and more. These were the first steps. Those steps will continue. Cars that help people safer despite their attitudes and capabilities are the first steps towards cars that can drive themselves.

The question for the next decade is do people really want to drive themselves at all, other than perhaps times when they are tired or under the influence of something that makes it illegal to drive?

The bottom line is we do want improved safety for all road users, reduced injuries, reduced traffic congestion and above all reduced lives lost due to road incidents.

Just like building rockets spawned a whole industry of wonderful technologies, so will the focus on building autonomous, driverless cars.

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About Luigi Cappel

Writer for hire, marketing consultant specialising in Location Based Services. Futurist and Public Speaker Auckland, New Zealand
This entry was posted in Artificial intelligence, Autonomous cars, car safety, Driverless car, Motoring, Retail and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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