Toyota is to set up a new company in Tokyo in the second half of March to accelerate its efforts in advanced development for automated driving. Called 'Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development' (TRI-AD), it will also engage Toyota firms Aisin Seiki and Denso Corporation to jointly develop fully-integrated, production-quality software for automated driving.
Together, TMC, Aisin and Denso plan to invest more than 300 billion yen in TRI-AD. The new company is targeting a staff of approximately 1,000 employees, including external
recruitment and staff from TMC, TRI, and Toyota Group Companies Aisin and Denso. Dr. James Kuffner, currently TRI Chief Technology Officer, will lead TRI-AD as its CEO.
“Building production-quality software is a critical success factor for Toyota’s automated driving program,” said Dr. Kuffner. “This company’s mission is to accelerate software development in a more effective and disruptive way, by augmenting the Toyota Group’s
capability through the hiring of world-class software engineers. We will recruit globally, and I am thrilled to lead this effort.”
At CES 2018 in January, Toyota Research Institute had revealed the next-generation automated driving research vehicle called Platform 3.0.
The new platform, which is built on a Lexus LS 600hL, combines greater technological capabilities with new harmonised styling that integrates the automated vehicle technology into the LS model's design.
Platform 3.0 represents maturing of TRI's automated vehicle research. Experimentation has transitioned to narrowing in on a technology package with a more defined sensor configuration and level of performance that helps catapult proficiency in understanding the world around the car.
Platform 3.0 has a very sensor-rich package that makes it one of the most perceptive automated driving test cars on the road. The Luminar LIDAR system with 200-meter range, which had only tracked the forward direction on TRI's previous test platform, now covers the vehicle's complete 360-degree perimeter. This is enabled by four high-resolution LIDAR scanning heads, which precisely detect objects in the environment including notoriously difficult-to-see dark objects.
Shorter-range LIDAR sensors are positioned low on all four sides of the vehicle―one in each front quarter panel and one each on the front and rear bumpers. These can detect low-level and smaller objects near the car like children and debris in the roadway. The new platform remains flexible for incorporating future breakthrough technology as it becomes available.
Key objectives of TRI-AD
The automotive industry is now in an era of profound transformation. High-quality software development and big data from connected vehicles will be crucial to success. To respond to
such changes, Toyota established Toyota Research Institute, Inc. (TRI) in North America in 2016 to conduct research in the areas of artificial intelligence, automated driving, and robotics.
The key objectives of the new company include the following:
- Create a smooth software pipeline from research-to-commercialization, leveraging data-handling capabilities.
- Strengthen coordination with TRI and efficiently link research results to product development.
- Strengthen the collaboration within the Toyota Group in the domains of research and advanced development.
- Recruit and employ top-level engineers globally, while cultivating and coordinating the strong talent within the Toyota Group.
“Toyota is known for the quality and efficiency of the Toyota Production System (TPS). I have no doubt that we can translate the fundamental ideas of TPS from the production of
hardware to the production of software, and dramatically enhance Toyota’s software capabilities,” said Dr. Gill Pratt, TMC Fellow, TRI CEO and Chairman of the new TRI-AD Board of Directors. “That’s what TRI has been working for, and that’s what the new company
will push even further.”