Toyota forms new company to develop production-quality automated driving software


Leading Japanese auto maker Toyota will establish a new company in Tokyo later this month. Named Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development (TRI-AD), it will accelerate the company’s efforts in automated driving systems and technologies.

To enable the new efforts at TRI-AD, Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) and Toyota Group companies Aisin Seiki Co Ltd (Aisin) and Denso Corporation (Denso) have concluded a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the joint development of fully-integrated, production-quality software for automated driving. Going forward, the three companies will hold further discussions, aiming to conclude a concrete joint development contract.

Together, TMC, Aisin and Denso plan to invest more than US$2.8bn (¥300bn) in TRI-AD. The new company is targeting an eventual staff of approximately 1,000 employees, including external recruitment and personnel from TMC, TRI, Aisin, and Denso.

To respond to an era of profound transformation in the automotive industry, Toyota established Toyota Research Institute Inc. (TRI) in North America in 2016 to conduct research in the areas of artificial intelligence, connected and automated driving, and robotics. Aiming to strengthen its competitiveness even further, Toyota decided to establish the new company with the key objectives of:

• Creating a smooth software pipeline from research-to-commercialization, using data-handling capabilities;

• Strengthening coordination with TRI and efficiently linking research results to product development;

• Ensuring collaboration within the Toyota Group in the domains of research and advanced development;

• Recruiting and employing top-level engineers globally, while cultivating and coordinating the strong talent within the Toyota Group.

Dr James Kuffner (right), TRI’s current chief technology officer, will lead TRI-AD as its CEO. “Building production-quality software is a critical success factor for Toyota’s automated driving program,” said Kuffner.

“This company’s mission is to accelerate software development in a more effective and disruptive way, by augmenting the Toyota Group’s capability through the hiring of world-class software engineers. We will recruit globally, and I am thrilled to lead this effort.”

Dr Gill Pratt, TMC fellow, TRI CEO, and chairman of the new TRI-AD board, commented, “We are known for the quality and efficiency of the Toyota Production System (TPS).

“I have no doubt that we can translate the fundamental ideas of TPS from the production of hardware to the production of software, and dramatically enhance Toyota’s software capabilities. That’s what TRI has been working for, and that’s what the new company will push even further.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).