Toyota Research Institute Launches Next Phase of Collaborative Research With Leading Academic Institutions

The Toyota Research Institute (TRI) has announced that over a dozen new academic institutions will participate in the next phase of its collaborative research program to expand AI research and the human experience.

The additional universities will now join MIT, Stanford, and the University of Michigan, which have worked with TRI over the last five years. The next phase with the new universities, also set for a five-year timeline, will include investing more than $75 million in the participating academic institutions. According to TRI, it’s one of the largest collaborative research programs by an automotive company globally.

“Our first five-year program pushed the boundaries of exploratory research across multiple fields, generating 69 patent applications and nearly 650 papers,” said Eric Krotkov, TRI Chief Science Officer, who leads the university research program. “Our next five years are about pushing even further and doing so with a broader, more diverse set of stakeholders.”

Participating Academic Institutions

In total, 16 universities completed a comprehensive proposal submission and review process. The following academic institutions will participate in TRI’s collaborative research program over the next five years.

  1. Carnegie Mellon University
  2. Columbia University
  3. Florida A&M University-Florida State University College of Engineering
  4. Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)
  5. Indiana University
  6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  7. Princeton University
  8. Smith College
  9. Stanford University
  10. Toyota Technological Institute at Chicago (TTIC)
  11. University of California, Berkeley
  12. University of Illinois
  13. University of Michigan
  14. University of Minnesota
  15. University of Pennsylvania
  16. University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Goals & Objectives

TRI says the transfer of knowledge through scientific and technical information between its researchers and academic partners is of the utmost importance. Through this latest program, TRI will oversee 35 joint research projects focusing on automated driving, robotics, and machine-assisted cognition. The projects intend to contribute new and significant knowledge to the artificial intelligence field while examining the relationship between state-of-the-art concepts and possible use cases, among other objectives.

This next five-year phase includes investments in projects TRI researchers have a keen academic interest in exploring. Each project features a TRI researcher as a co-investigator who works with a university partner. According to TRI, this approach directly engages its researchers with academic AI partners and ensures that it contributes to the TRI mission.

“To get to the best ideas, collaboration is critical,” Krotkov said. “Our aim is to build a pipeline of new ideas from different perspectives and underrepresented voices that share our vision of using AI for human amplification and societal good.”

Opportunities for Younger Researchers

TRI is also offering Young Faculty Researcher projects to form partnerships with more junior (typically pre-tenure) faculty members. Unlike joint projects that move in a specific direction and have desired technical outcomes, the young faculty projects support promising tenure-stream faculty members, enabling them to explore more broadly and address higher-risk but possibly higher-payoff ideas.