What do cars, robots and lightweight materials have in common?

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While the auto industry loves us taking big leaps in the electric car range, Toyota’s chief scientist thinks it’s a one-note tune. In fact, he says, paying for a range longer than necessary can be unnecessarily expensive and bad for the planet.

“Carrying a battery that you’re not (fully) using isn’t an environmentally positive thing,” says Gil Pratt, Chief Scientist at Toyota Motor Corporation, He points out that a long-range battery not only weighs a lot, but also keeps the same weight when discharged or barely used. “If you buy a car with a 400-mile range, but only travel 40 miles each day and then leave it plugged in at night, 90% of your car’s battery goes around without a purpose. ” A long-range battery is also an expensive component.

The 2023 Toyota BZ4X arrives in the US with funky looks and a 250-mile estimated range.

Instead, it favors smaller, “right-sized” batteries combined with omnidirectional charging to build range in harmony, allowing a lighter car that gets enough range from a small battery in a good circle. .

coolie-intv-gil-pratt-toyota-tri

Gil Pratt, chief scientist and CEO of Toyota Research Institute.

With its position on vehicle autonomy, Toyota is a centrist when it comes to vehicle electrification, despite making most efforts to popularize electrification with the hybrid Prius line. “We all have a tendency to latch on to whatever the latest thing is,” Pratt says, “(but) we’re going to see other types of vehicles in the future” for those that don’t have enough charging infrastructure. are not or who hangs on his car for 12 years or more.

Currently requires easy charging Most of the world outside China, Western Europe, and Japan, not to mention large sections of america, Combustion-engined cars will continue to dominate Toyota’s massive production even after it achieves its recently advanced goal of selling 3.5 million electric cars per year by 2030.

Toyota announced the billion-dollar establishment of its research institute in 2015 and soon thereafter announced itself in the mobility business, before the “M word” was on every automaker’s lips. For a company primarily located in aging, shrinking japanToyota’s mobility vision focuses on the needs of people as they age. “Our focus in robotics is to help older societies,” Pratt says. “In the same way that a car enhances a person … Robotic technology can help people enhance themselves as they get older.”

Toyota HSR Human Assisted Robot

Toyota’s HSR or Human Assisted Robot

The main focus of Toyota Research Institute’s headquarters in Silicon Valley is robotics. Pratt thinks the company’s double vision of autonomy will result in rapid mergers, Parental Driver Assistance and Driver Full Autonomy, In the long term, that merger could start another virtuous cycle: driver assistance could reduce accidents enough to make cars safely lighter, magnifying the benefits of any electric strategy. “We can greatly improve the quality of life of people of any age and any ability.”

Hear all of Gil Pratt’s conversation with Nerdshala’s Brian Cooley in the video.

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