Why Toyota set up new $1 billion research group as a ‘skunkworks’

pratt-gWe caught up earlier this month with Gill Pratt, the chief executive of the newly-formed Toyota Research Institute. The world’s largest carmaker announced it will invest $1 billion over five years to set up new research facilities in Palo Alto, Calif. and Cambridge, Mass., with a focus on artificial intelligence and robotics.

The new institute has four initial mandates, according to a speech Pratt gave at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month (video excerpt below):

First, we wish to enhance the safety of automobiles with the ultimate goal of creating a car that is incapable of causing a crash, regardless of the skill or condition of the driver.

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