Building tomorrow’s intelligent cars and robots today

The future of mobility is closer than we think, but what will it actually look like?
Traditional automakers, technology companies, and university researchers are reimagining transportation for our world. Autonomous vehicle technology, artificial intelligence, and cloud robotics are enabling new concepts and systems for personal mobility, whether on the road or at home. These innovations will revolutionize how vehicles and personal robots are used, how cities are built, and how we, as a society, think about technology as a whole.
Autonomous vehicle technology is rapidly maturing and connectivity is becoming ubiquitous. As a result, we expect mobility to continue to expand as an on-demand service, with people using transportation seamlessly. That may make it possible for cities, built around traditional automobiles, to be transformed and radically redesigned.
The rise of personalized travel and a sharing economy holds the potential for dramatic reductions in pollution, traffic, and noise. Roads and surface streets could be converted to green pedestrian-only zones, and the land we pave over today for parking lots could be turned into environmentally-friendly commercial or residential space. The average car is parked 95 percent of the time, and the U.S. has approximately one billion parking spots for 253 million vehicles in use. In the future, traditional parking lots could evolve into logistical hubs from which connected, self-driving cars could be summoned. These future logistical hubs could be positioned away from urban centers and double as charging and hydrogen fuel cell stations.
This future holds the potential to bring technology revolutions that go far beyond autonomous vehicles. Toyota is building cloud computing and artificial intelligence software to push the performance and agility of robots closer to that of humans. Although voice-activated robots and intelligent agents are emerging in the marketplace, they still have a long way to go in terms of widespread adoption. In order for robots to be widely embraced by the public, they need to be reliable, safe, inexpensive, and capable of performing a variety of useful tasks.
Cloud robotics will enable intelligent machines to tap into more data and learn from other robots. With enhanced perception, movement, and reasoning, these robots will increasingly help perform home tasks or assist people with mobility challenges – a potentially significant quality-of-life improvement that will grow increasingly valuable as people around the world live longer lives.
Going forward, however, robotics not only has the potential to help the elderly “age in place,” but could be widely diversified in function and be used across industries, ranging from medicine to manufacturing to space exploration.
How can we help make this future real?
Collaboration between industry, government, academia and others working together to solve the technological, organizational and social implications of these technologies is needed. How will self-driving vehicles and intelligent robots change human behavior? What new questions will seamless, intelligent mobility raise? How will society accept and integrate this new technology?
Our vision is to lead the way to the future of mobility, enriching lives around the world with the safest and most responsible ways of moving people. We believe that we can make all these things happen if we go places … together.
Source: James Fuffner/CTO at Toyota Research Institute