AUTO INDUSTRY NEWS

Toyota launches venture capital fund to hasten AI research

Toyota launches venture capital fund to hasten AI research image

Eric Tipan / | July 20, 2017 07:49

3 startup companies get $100-M investment from new Toyota VC fund

Toyota is betting big on the future of self-driving technology by investing heavily in three technology startup companies through its new corporate venture capital subsidiary, Toyota AI Ventures.

An initial capital of $100 million has been allotted by Toyota Research Institute for Nauto, SLAMcore and Intuition Robotics through Toyota AI Ventures and this will be used to focus research and development on artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous mobility, and data and cloud technology.

Toyota AI Ventures will also seek out and select various other startup companies for mentorship and support at the TRI Silicon Valley headquarters, while also looking for entrepreneurs who want to work in a venture business environment.

"Toyota has a history of disruptive innovation in the service of mankind, moving from textile machinery to automobiles in the late 30's, to the broad electrification of the automobile with Prius in the 90's, to autonomous mobility and human assist robots. TRI is growing quickly, and we recognize the critical importance of expanding our collaboration with the world's brightest entrepreneurial talent. This venture is a major step towards our mission to empower talented entrepreneurs who share Toyota's commitment to enhancing the quality of human life," said Gill Pratt, CEO of TRI.

Nauto is working on a system for professional drivers and fleet managers that monitors drivers and the road to prevent collisions and improve driver behavior all by using data shared in a smart cloud network.

SLAMcore is developing advanced algorithms that can be used by tech platforms like self-driving cars to build a map of their immediate environment and their position in it.

Intuition Robotics is one of the leading companies involved in social companion tech development using its ElliQ active-aging robotic companion.

"We realize that we don't have all of the answers. A lot of disruptive technologies come from startups and we want to help them be successful. One of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face is knowing if they're building the right product for the right market. We can help them navigate that uncertainty, and we're committed to doing so in a founder-friendly way because their success is our success," said Jim Adler, TRI's vice president of data and business development.