‘Ro­bots to dic­tate mo­tor­ing fu­ture’

Lesotho Times - - Motlo -

TOKYO — The US ro­bot­ics ex­pert tapped to head Toy­ota’s Sil­i­con Val­ley re­search com­pany says the $1-bil­lion in­vest­ment by the gi­ant Ja­panese au­tomaker will start show­ing re­sults within five years.

Gill Pratt told re­porters that the Toy­ota Re­search In­sti­tute is also look­ing ahead into the dis­tant fu­ture when there will be cars that any­one, in­clud­ing chil­dren and the el­derly, can ride in on their own, as well as ro­bots that help out in homes.

Pratt, a for­mer pro­gram man­ager at the US mil­i­tary’s de­fense ad­vanced re­search projects agency, joined Toy­ota Mo­tor Cor­po­ra­tion first as a tech­ni­cal ad­viser when it set up its ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence re­search ef­fort at Stan­ford Univer­sity and MIT (Mas­sachu- setts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy).

Vary­ing de­grees of suc­cess Pratt said safety fea­tures will be the first types of AI ap­pli­ca­tions to ap­pear in Toy­ota ve­hi­cles. Such fea­tures are al­ready of­fered on some models now be­ing sold, such as sen­sors that help cars brake or warn driv­ers be­fore a pos­si­ble crash, and cars that drive them­selves au­to­mat­i­cally into park­ing spa­ces or on cer­tain roads. Pratt told re­porters re­cently at Toy­ota’s Tokyo of­fice of the time­frame seen for the in­vest­ment: “I ex­pect some­thing to come out dur­ing those five years.

“It is very im­por­tant to un­der­stand that what we are do­ing has high risk and that some of our ef­forts will not be en­tirely suc- cess­ful but we ex­pect some of them to be very suc­cess­ful.”most au­tomak­ers, such as Gen­eral Mo­tors, Tesla and Nis­san, are com­pet­ing on au­ton­o­mous driv­ing and con­nect­ing cars to the in­ter­net, while sev­eral big com­pa­nies out­side the auto in­dus­try, in­clud­ing Google, Ap­ple and Uber, are also eye­ing the busi­ness.

Pratt said that only in the fu­ture will there be what he called “hy­per-ex­po­nen­tial growth” in ca­pa­bil­ity, when all ro­bots are con­nected to­gether in a net­work, shar­ing in­for­ma­tion on the cloud and help­ing each other im­prove.

No one knows when that might hap­pen, although Pratt said that was likely within two decades.pratt said: “Some­day, th­ese cars will be safe enough that chil­dren could go from one place to the other with­out hav­ing a soc­cer

Ex­plor­ing the op­tions Toy­ota has al­ready shown an R2-d2-like ro­bot de­signed to help the el­derly, the sick and peo­ple in wheel­chairs by pick­ing up and car­ry­ing ob­jects. The au­tomaker has also shown hu­man-shaped en­ter­tain­ment ro­bots that can con­verse and play mu­si­cal in­stru­ments.toy­ota, which makes the Prius hy­brid, Camry sedan and the lux­ury Lexus models, al­ready uses so­phis­ti­cated ro­botic arms and com­put­ers in auto pro­duc­tion.

While Pratt’s in­sti­tute, which started op­er­at­ing this year, will have ex­changes with Toy­ota’s other di­vi­sions, such as the ro­bot­ics one, in­clud­ing hav­ing em­ploy­ees go­ing back and forth, com­pany strat­egy is not part of his work.pratt con­cluded: “Our job is to ex­plore what is pos­si­ble, what might work. We don’t ac­tu­ally know what’s go­ing to work.”

— AP

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