Remember the tortoise and the hare fable? Like the tortoise, Toyota took its time to test the waters and see if autonomous cars would become a thing. As we now know, after Google and Tesla’s efforts, they are the future of automotive so the company took notice, revved the engine and is bound to make a remarkable comeback in the race with a $1 billion investment #automagic
Toyota has spent this fabulous sum on a new research institute that will focus on autonomous cars and robotics. The man in charge will be Gill Pratt, a top robotics researchers, and Stanford, MIT and the University of Michigan are going to be valuable allies down the road. The objective is to rethink cars’ capabilities in the long run, while in the near future, Toyota wants to invest in technologies that would assess drivers’ alertness such as inward-looking cameras and defensive driving.
By defensive driving, Toyota understands prediction software, 3D vision and pattern recognition that would help a self-driving car anticipate trouble. In this way, wobbling cyclists, distracted pedestrians and angry motorists would be seen and avoided in time.
Whether the company’s efforts will pay off, helping it catch up to Google, remains to be seen but we can’t be more happy of the fact that serious carmakes are joining the driverless cars club.