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Photo via Toyota/Camry
Photo via Toyota/Camry

Today, Toyota announced a $50 million, five-year collaboration with Stanford and MIT to develop “intelligent” cars.

As the New York Times reports, it’s an “ambitious” move to get beyond the idea of the self-driving car, like those being developed by Google, Apple and Tesla, and go one further — vehicles that use robotics and artificial intelligence to help human drivers out when they mess up.

The project will include financing for researchers at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and the M.I.T. Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory to work on the car-friendly robotics.

The overall project will be lead by Gill Pratt, a prominent roboticist who has left his job at the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to lead the new Toyota effort.

“Dr. Pratt described the two approaches as ‘parallel’ and ‘serial’ autonomy,” reports the Times. “In layman terms, parallel means the machine watches what you do, while serial means it replaces you.”

According to the Times, Toyota envisions a world with cars that act like “guardian angels,” watching human drivers and correcting their driving mistakes or help them avoid collisions. They especially see the A.I.-enabled cars helping out older drivers. Toyota cites aging demographics in advanced countries, like Japan and the United States, as a prime market for the A.I.-enabled cars.

“A worry we have is that the autonomy not take away the fun in driving,” Pratt told the Times. “If the autonomy can avoid a wreck, it can also make it more fun to drive.”

You can watch a live link of the press conference, going on now here.

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