Although the industry has made great strides over the last five years, we are a long way from the finish line of fully automated cars. When you look at what is currently being tested and developed in the field of autonomous vehicles, you will find that these systems can only handle certain speed ranges, certain weather conditions, certain street complexity, or certain traffic. Most of what has been collectively accomplished has been relatively easy because most driving is easy. Where we need autonomy to help us, is when the driving is difficult. And it’s this hard part that TRI intends to address. That means understanding difficult driving scenarios, and building AI systems that learn from, and evolve to predict, such scenarios. 

TRI will also apply AI technology to the challenge of home robotics. Here, fueled by our aging society and the remarkable progress in electronics and computer science, we see a need for machines to assist in mobility beyond the realm of what is currently possible. Home robots may become even more personally prized in our future than cars have been in our past. It is entirely possible that robots will become for today’s Toyota what the car industry was when Toyota made looms.

Finally, Toyota's quest for a new world of mobility also depends on novel materials. Robots in the home will need materials that are stronger, lighter, and less expensive than the machines on the factory floor. Electric vehicles need a new type of battery that stores energy as efficiently as gasoline, and is equally simple and fast to recharge as a gas tank. And fuel cell technology currently requires methods to store and process Hydrogen at high pressure, posing significant engineering challenges. TRI wants to apply the promise of machine learning and AI to discover, even design, new materials that will vault past these limitations.

Society tolerates a lot of human error. But we expect machines to be much better. We expect them to be bullet-proof… ever-ready… and nearly perfect. However, achieving this level of quality is difficult given the issues that exist in the current state-of-the-art in AI software. Presently, many of the most advanced AI systems use machine learning techniques where large datasets are used to train the software how to respond. A challenge with this approach is that it is hard to know what the system will do when faced with a novel input. 

It is this quest for safety, utility and reliability that drives TRI to understand the hard parts of driving, to understand how humans can benefit from robot assistants, and to understand how to apply AI to designing and creating new materials. 

 

Leadership

Gill Pratt

CEO

Dr. Gill Pratt is the Chief Executive Officer of Toyota Research Institute (TRI), a research and development enterprise designed to bridge the gap between fundamental research and product development. Launched in 2016, TRI’s mission is 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. Dr. Pratt also serves as the Executive Technical Advisor to Toyota Motor Corporation.

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James Kuffner

CTO

Dr. James Kuffner is the Chief Technology Officer at the Toyota Research Institute and an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University. From 2009 to 2016, Dr. Kuffner was a Research Scientist and Engineering Director at Google. Dr. Kuffner received a Ph.D. from the Stanford University Dept. of Computer Science Robotics Laboratory in 1999, and was a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Tokyo. He joined the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute in 2002.

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Eric Krotkov

CSO

Dr. Eric Krotkov serves as the Chief Science Officer of the Toyota Research Institute (TRI), where he directs strategic research and development, and leads the company's university collaborations. Dr. Krotkov joined TRI at its founding in 2016 and served as the Chief Operating Officer.  From 2001 to 2015, Dr. Krotkov was the President of Griffin Technologies, where he consulted on robotics for DARPA and other Government agencies. Before founding Griffin, he worked in industry as an executive in a medical imaging technology start-up, in government as a program manager at DARPA, and in academia as a faculty member of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.

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Kelly Kay

COO

Kelly Kay is the Chief Operations Officer at the Toyota Research Institute (TRI) responsible for Human Resources, IT, Legal/Compliance, Facilities and overall operations.  Prior to TRI, Kelly served as the Vice President of Business Operations at Lyft, Inc., where she built and led the teams responsible for Regulatory Compliance, Audit & Reporting, Payments & Fraud, and Airport Operations.  She also served as the Chief Operating Officer and President of YapStone, Inc., a leading electronic payments company in the real property space.

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Chris Ballinger

CFO

Chris Ballinger is the Chief Financial Officer and Director of Mobility Services for the Toyota Research Institute.

Ballinger joined TRI in April 2017 following 14 years at Toyota Financial Services (TFS). Upon his transition, Ballinger served in a global leadership role for TFS as Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Officer of Strategic Innovation, helping guide global TFS strategy to address future market trends and business model requirements.

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Yasuyuki Kohaya

CLO

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Yasuyuki Kohaya is the Chief Liaison Officer at at the 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 his MBA degree from MIT Sloan School of Management in 2007, and upon returning to Toyota, he joined the Product and Business Planning Division where in the course of his 6 year experience he was involved in multiple projects, such as future Lexus products, a Tesla partnership, and alternative fuel vehicles strategy.

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Ryan Eustice

VP of Autonomous Driving

Dr. Ryan Eustice is the Vice President of Autonomous Driving at the Toyota Research Institute (TRI) and head of the TRI Ann Arbor office. He also serves on Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's "Council on Future Mobility," a state government regulatory policy advisory board.

Dr. Eustice received a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology / Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program in Ocean Engineering in 2005, and was a Postdoctoral Research Scholar at Johns Hopkins University.

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John Leonard

VP OF Driving Research

John Leonard is Vice President for Driving Research at Toyota Research Institute (TRI). Leonard is conducting research on autonomous driving with a focus on TRI's Guardian research project.

In addition, Leonard is a Samuel C. Collins Professor of Mechanical and Ocean Engineering and Associate Department Head for Research in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Mechanical Engineering.  He is also a member of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL).  His research addresses the problems of navigation and mapping for autonomous mobile robots.

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Russ Tedrake

VP of Simulation and Control

Russ Tedrake is the Vice President of Simulation and Control at Toyota Research Institute (TRI). Tedrake manages a team devoted to producing a world-class simulation capability for TRI with a simple vision: What if we could develop real-world robots and autonomous vehicles completely in software (and trust that they will work in the real world)?  Tedrake’s team also pursues fundamental research on “Enabling Technologies” for TRI Robotics, with a specific focus on manipulation and soft robotics.

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Jim Adler

Vice President

Jim Adler is managing director and board member of Toyota AI Ventures and a vice president at Toyota Research Institute (TRI). He also serves on the Department of Homeland Security Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee providing advice at the request of the Secretary of Homeland Security.

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Suzanne Basalla

ChIEf of Staff

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Suzanne Basalla serves as Chief of Staff, Toyota Research Institute. From October 2012-March 2017, she was Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the U.S.-Japan Council, an educational non-profit dedicated to strengthening U.S.-Japan relations through people-to-people connections, especially investing in next generation leaders through the TOMODACHI Initiative.

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Locations

 
TRI headquarters in Los Altos, California.

TRI headquarters in Los Altos, California.

 

Los Altos, CA

Located a few miles from our collaborators at Stanford University, TRI's Los Altos office echos the excitement and innovation found throughout Silicon Valley. 

Ann Arbor, Mi

Opened in mid-2016, our Ann Arbor office is positioned next to the University of Michigan and close to Toyota's US engineering and technology center, offering unique technology transfer opportunities. 

Cambridge, MA

TRI's Cambridge office in the booming Kendall Square technology park area is a short walk from MIT, enabling close collaboration on a number of research projects.