New Straits Times
Toyota eyes US$2.8b to fund self-driving cars
TOKYO: Toyota Motor Corp plans to spend US$2.8 billion (RM11 billion) to make sure its system for writing the software for self-driving cars will be just as efficient as the factories that build them.
The company needs faster and more reliable methods for writing software because self-driving cars require “millions and millions’’ of lines of computer code, according to James Kuffner, who’ll lead the new effort.
That compares with tens of thousands of lines of code in cars just a generation ago.
The carmaker is seeking an edge over rival car giants as well as newcomers, such as Alphabet Inc’s Waymo, as the industry charts a path towards self-driving vehicles.
Kuffner said he planned to hire 1,000 programmers as soon as he can find them, seeking to woo global talent.
“We’re not just doubling down but quadrupling down in terms of the budget,’’ he said.
“We have nearly US$4 billion (RM15.7 billion) to really have Toyota become a new mobility company that is world class in software.’’
For the effort, Toyota is setting up a new company, here, with two of its suppliers.
On Friday, Kuffner was named chief executive officer of the venture, called Toyota Research Institute (TRI)— Advanced Development.
Toyota had already allocated US$1 billion to start a unit called Toyota Research Institute in 2015 to study self-driving, robotics and artificial intelligence.
Kuffner, has been serving as chief technology officer for TRI, which now has about 250 employees.
Before that, he was the leader of robotics and cloud computing research at Alphabet’s Google unit.