Toyota has just announced its new Toyota AI Ventures initiative, which is a new venture capital subsidiary that will eye down tech companies that are working on AI. The new fund has already received a $100 million injection of funds from the Toyota Research Institute (TRI), which is an AI/robotics/autonomous car-focused initiative the Japanese carmaker started in 2015.
Toyota AI Ventures will focus its investments directly into AI, robotics, autonomous vehicles, as well as data and cloud technology. It w ill also offer companies that it invests in both mentorship, and support at its HQ in Silicon Valley. TRI VP Jim Adler said in a statement: "One of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face is knowing if they're building the right product for the right market. We can help them navigate that uncertainty, and we're committed to doing so in a founder-friendly way because their success is our success".
This new venture will be a little different, with TRI not just waiting for pitches from investors, but it will look for, and support companies that are on the path towards solving something Toyota is interested in. TRI has already funded 3 startups, with Silicon Valley-based Nauto, a company that designs systems for companies that monitors their driver and road environments to stop accidents or bad driving.
The second startup TRI has funded is SLAMcore in the UK which is working on algorithms for smart tech including drones and self-driving cars, a technology that SLAMcore can use to map their surrounds and position the cars and drones around it. The last company is Intuition Robotics, which is a social companion tech startup in Israel.
An interesting future for Toyota, that's for sure.