But the company has a lot of work to do first. It must develop hardware and software for the vehicle, dramatically slash the cost of the technology and ramp up the hiring of the software engineers who will make it all happen.
That's the challenge facing James Kuffner, CEO of Toyota Research Institute Advanced Development Inc., or TRI-AD. His Tokyo company was set up in March to spearhead Toyota's attempt to bridge the gap between research and the showroom floor.
The first milestone comes in 2020, when Toyota plans to introduce vehicles capable of driving themselves on highways. Kuffner said they would be rolling supercomputers.
"The prototypes and the preproduction vehicles that the team is building here at TRI-AD are going to be … the most intelligent supercomputer on wheels," Kuffner said late last month at TRI-AD's temporary office near Tokyo Station. "We've called it the moonshot of my generation to build this technology and bring it to market."
Toyota teamed with Toyota Group suppliers Aisin Seiki and Denso to invest $2.8 billion in the new company to create the software that runs self-driving vehicles.
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