Self-driving vehicles have the potential to fundamentally change human mobility in ways that will have profound implications for our society, economy and politics. Technological advances can make transport more efficient, safer, more convenient, and free, but it can also eliminate jobs, threaten our sense of independence, and invade our privacy. Companies that can successfully develop and apply artificial intelligence to transport while meeting these challenges will be richly rewarded and so it is no surprise that many, including most of the automotive firms, are racing ahead to compete in this important sector.
Toyota, among the world’s largest sellers of automobiles, is one such company. In 2016 it launched the Toyota Research Institute in Palo Alto, which aims to enhance the safety of automobiles, with the ultimate goal of creating a car that is incapable of causing a crash. It seeks to provide increased access to cars for those who otherwise cannot drive, including those with special needs and seniors. Furthermore, TRI looks to translate outdoor mobility technology into products for indoor mobility, and accelerate scientific discovery by applying techniques from artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Yasuyuki Kohaya, Chief Liaison Officer at Toyota Research Institute, and Stephen Zoepf, Executive Director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford Director, talk about their vision of the future of artificial intelligence and transport.
Yasuyuki (Yas) Kohaya
Chief Liaison Officer, Toyota Research Institute
Yas joined Toyota Motor Corporation in 1997 as a production engineer, designing and launching production lines for internal combustion engines. He received MBA degree from MIT in 2007, and upon returning to Toyota, he joined Product and Business Planning Division where in the course of his six-year experience he was involved multiple projects such as future Lexus products, Tesla partnership, and alternative fuel vehicles strategy. He moved to Silicon Valley in 2014 to start Toyota Ventures where he was responsible for initiating and managing collaboration projects with Silicon Valley startups and IT companies as well as for supporting the launch of Toyota Research Institute.
Yas is currently at TRI as Chief Liaison Officer supporting the management team in every aspect of strategic and operational decision making as well as facilitating communication with Toyota headquarters. Yas received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, his Masters of Science at the University of Michigan and his Masters of Business at MIT.
Executive Director of the Center for Automotive Research, Stanford
Dr. Stephen Zoepf is the Executive Director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford. He holds a Ph.D., M.Sc. and B.Sc. from MIT. He has eight years of experience in the automotive industry as an engineer and product manager at BMW and Ford, and previously led U.S. Department of Transportation efforts to integrate confidential data submissions efforts into national vehicle energy policy modeling. He was an ENI Energy Initiative Fellow, a Martin Energy Fellow, and a recipient of the Barry McNutt award from the Energy and Alternative Fuels Committees of the Transportation Research Board. His work has been covered in numerous popular press articles, initiated a Congressional probe, and has been lampooned in The Onion.
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