Monday, November 9, 2015

Toyota goes for rock-solid AI designs from Gil Pratt and other American geeks


Hans Greimel has written an interesting explainer on the background and details of Toyota's push into the auto AI race and the life and motives of Gil Pratt, Toyota's new AI leader.

Reading between the lines, it is obvious to me that Toyota is admitting that it cannot become a serious contender for leadership status in autonomous vehicles unless it taps into American brainpower in the field of AI/robotics.

I am glad. If their Japanese engineers could not get even build a safe, robust ETC, (my strong impression is that they developed and tested software as if it were hardware), they certainly could not hope to leapfrog Google and Apple to eventually take the lead in infinitely more complex cutting-edge embedded AI systems. As the head of the new Toyota Research Institute, Pratt "described the move as transitioning the world's biggest automaker away from a past of bending metal and toward a future of programming silicon." Well, it's about time.

I also think this is move that may amount to killing two birds with one stone. Toyota cannot rewrite its ETC and related software now without coming under yet another dark cloud of suspicion that they knew all along that it was defective. But Toyota can rewrite its embedded software from scratch, no problem, if it is rewritten in the context of leaping ahead to the next era in automotive history.