Automakers didn’t build the self-driving car: Google did. That’s a big problem for them. Hoping to catch up, Ford, Toyota, and Volkswagen are betting on academics. Along with Nvidia, Samsung, Qualcomm and Panasonic, they’re each giving $300,000 to the University of California at Berkeley to fund artificial intelligence research.
The alliance, called DeepDrive, is a rare moment of AI cooperation among car companies, which are racing one another to create the kind of brains that propel Google’s prototype gumdrop-shaped vehicles around Mountain View. It also highlights the new position universities find themselves in. Their AI lab work is in high demand– and corporations don’t want to wait months or years to get their hands on it.