Toyota Research Institute (TRI) has donated $100,000 to the Computer Vision Center (CVC) at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, UAB) in Spain to accelerate its development of an open-source simulator for automated driving called Car Learning to Act (CARLA).
"Technological advances and growth are made possible through collaboration and com-munity support," said Vangelis Kokkevis, Director of Driving Simulation at TRI. "Fostering the development of a common open simulation platform will allow TRI and its academic and industrial partners to better exchange code, information and data."
CARLA is hosted on Github and its development is directed by the CVC. The non-profit, open-source simulator is designed for the development, training and validation of automated urban driving systems, as well as to ensure the stability of automated vehicles in the various situations that are not always testable in the real world, the according to TRI. It offers a multitude of environmental conditions and is designed to be extended and easily modified to fit specific project needs.
With TRI’s donation, the CARLA Team plans to expand its engineering team and the simulator’s capabilities.
Dr. Antonio López, responsible for the project at CVC, said "CARLA is born to democratize research on automated driving, supporting training and testing of AI drivers beyond real-world limitations. The joint work of CARLA engineers, artists and scientists is making this possible. Obviously, we need to keep working to allow CARLA reach its full maturity, and this is why the sponsorship from Toyota is highly valuable."
TRI has also made donations to a few other open-source platforms, including the Open Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF) for two consecutive years. The OSRF offers the global robotics community access to open source robotics software and development tools. Additionally, TRI is the primary contributor to Drake, an open-source C++ toolbox created by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) for analyzing the dynamics of robots and building control systems.
Furthermore, TRI also led a $14 million early stage funding round in Intuition Robotics, an Israeli company that develops artificial intelligence robots designed for use as an "active aging companion" for the elderly. Joining TRI was OurCrowd, iRobot, Maniv Mobility, Terra Venture Partners, Bloomberg Beta, and other private investors. This investment, according to a press release, marked the first outside investment in robotic technology designed for older adults by TRI.
Intuition Robotics’ ElliQ robot is being developed to promote an active lifestyle, with the goal of helping older adults benefit from technology that is easy to use, according to Intuition Robotics.
"We believe Intuition Robotics’ technology in the field of cognitive computing has strong potential to positively impact the world’s aging population," said Gill Pratt, chief executive of Toyota's research institute.