What’s behind Toyota’s big bet on artificial intelligence?

Robotics master leads effort Robotics master leads effort Akio Toyoda, right, and Gill Pratt. Toyota will move from bending metal to programming silicon. TOKYO — Silicon Valley tech giants such as Google and Apple have deftly marshaled their software expertise to muscle in on the traditional car industry. Now Toyota Motor Corp. is pushing back with a $1 billion initiative on their home turf. To lead the push, the Japanese juggernaut has tapped an American car guy who happens to be one of country’s foremost experts in robotics and artificial intelligence. Gill Pratt, who was a program manager for robotics at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, says Toyota’s grand plan is part of a business diversification ordered by CEO Akio Toyoda. “It’s not just a probe. It’s a…


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