Toyota Research Institute (TRI) has announced the hiring of its technical leadership team of scientists and engineers.

Announced late last year, TRI is a research and development enterprise that is designed to bridge the gap between fundamental research and product development. The all-star group of scientists and engineers will help drive research into artificial intelligence and robots with TRI CEO Gill Pratt introducing the technical team and initial TRI research programs during a press conference at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

Taking on the role of chief operating officer will be Erik Krotkov, former DARPA program manager, while Larry Jackel, former Bell Labs department head and DARPA program manager, will head Machine Learning. Of interest in the automotive sphere is John Leonard and Samuel C. Collins, who will both head Autonomous Driving research.

TRI will be funded by an initial five-year, $1 billion investment and has been launched with mandates to enhance the safety of automobiles, with the ultimate goal of creating a car that is incapable of causing a crash as well as increasing the access to cars for those otherwise unable to drive. Other focuses include helping translate outdoor mobility technology into products for indoor mobility and accelerating scientific discovery by applying techniques from artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“While the most important technology for enhancing human mobility has traditionally been hardware, today software and data are increasingly essential,” said Pratt. “Our leadership team brings decades of experience in pushing the boundaries of human knowledge in computer science and robotics, but we are only getting started. The scale of Toyota’s commitment reflects our belief in the importance of developing safe and reliable automated mobility systems. Simply put, we believe we can significantly improve the quality of life for all people, regardless of age, with mobility products in all aspects of life.”

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