Entry Date:
September 8, 2015

Toyota-CSAIL Joint Research Center

The World Health Organization estimates that 3,400 people die each day from traffic-related accidents. Could autonomous cars be part of the solution?

MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) announced a new $25 million research center funded by Toyota to further the development of autonomous vehicle technologies, with the goal of reducing traffic casualties and potentially even developing a vehicle incapable of getting into an accident.

The Toyota-CSAIL Joint Research Center will be part of a combined $50 million that Toyota has committed to dual centers at MIT and Stanford University to advance the state of autonomous systems.

Led by CSAIL director Daniela Rus, the new center will focus on developing advanced decision-making algorithms and systems that allow vehicles to perceive and navigate their surroundings safely, without human input.

Research at the new center will be aimed at improving vehicular transportation by advancing the science of autonomous systems. Researchers will tackle challenges integral to the development of advanced automated vehicle systems, including building new tools for collecting and analyzing navigation data with the goal of learning from human driving; creating perception and decision-making systems for safe navigation; developing predictive models that can anticipate the behavior of humans, vehicles, and the larger environment; inventing state-of-the-art tools to handle congestion and high-speed driving in challenging situations including adverse weather; improving machine-vision algorithms used to detect and classify objects; and creating more intelligent user interfaces.

Among the CSAIL principal investigators involved will be John Leonard, the Samuel C. Collins Professor in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, who has pioneered algorithms that allow robots to navigate unknown environments, and Russ Tedrake, an associate professor of computer science and engineering, who oversaw MIT’s DARPA Robotics Challenge team. The researchers say that they are eager to work on solutions that could completely transform the way that humans get around.