Dr. James Kuffner is the Chief Executive Officer for Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development (TRI-AD) and an Executive Advisor for Toyota Research Institute (TRI). Prior to being named CEO at TRI-AD in March 2018, Dr. Kuffner was the Chief Technology Officer at TRI. 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 working on software and planning algorithms for humanoid robots. He joined the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute in 2002.
Dr. Kuffner is perhaps best known as co-inventor of the Rapidly-exploring Random Tree (RRT) algorithm, which has become a key standard benchmark for robot motion planning. He has published over 125 technical papers, holds more than 40 patents, and received the Okawa Foundation Award for Young Researchers in 2007.
Before joining TRI, Dr. Kuffner was a Research Scientist and Engineering Director at Google from 2009 to 2016. Dr. Kuffner was part of the initial engineering team that built Google’s self-driving car. In 2010, he introduced the term "Cloud Robotics" to describe how network-connected robots could take advantage of distributed computation and data stored in the cloud. Dr. Kuffner was appointed head of Google’s Robotics division in 2014, which he co-founded along with Andy Rubin.
Dr. Kuffner continues to serve as an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University.