The Toyota Research Institute - TRI – has announced that it is investing an initial $100 million to launch Toyota AI Ventures, a new corporate venture capital subsidiary providing early-stage financing to startup technology companies.
TRI’s investment currently focuses in the areas of:
- Artificial Intelligence;
- Autonomous Mobility; and
- Data and Cloud Technology.
In line with this investment profile, TRI has contributed initial investments to three technology companies: Nauto, SLAMcore and Intuition Robotics.
Based in Silicon Valley, Nauto provides a technology system, designed for professional drivers and fleet managers, that monitors drivers and the road environment to prevent collisions, improves driver behavior, and learns from the diverse data shared across its smart cloud network.
SLAMcore, based in Britain, develops advanced algorithms designed to help technology platforms like autonomous cars, drones and augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) systems to simultaneously build a map of their surroundings and position themselves within it.
Israel-based Intuition Robotics is a leader in the development of social companion technology, including its ElliQ active-aging robotic companion.
Gill Pratt, CEO of TRI said of the initiative that:
“Toyota has a history of disruptive innovation in the service of mankind, moving from textile machinery to automobiles in the late 30’s, to the broad electrification of the automobile with Prius in the 90’s, to autonomous mobility and human-assist robots. TRI is growing quickly, and we recognize the critical importance of expanding our collaboration with the world’s brightest entrepreneurial talent. This venture is a major step towards our mission to empower talented entrepreneurs who share Toyota’s commitment to enhancing the quality of human life.”
Jim Adler, TRI’s vice president of data and business development, takes the role of managing director of Toyota AI Ventures and added that:
“We realize that we don’t have all of the answers. A lot of disruptive technologies come from startups and we want to help them be successful. One of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face is knowing if they’re building the right product for the right market. We can help them navigate that uncertainty, and we’re committed to doing so in a founder-friendly way because their success is our success.”