Toyota commits $2.8 billion to launch self-driving software company in Japan

For the effort, Toyota is setting up a new company in Tokyo with two of its suppliers. On Friday, Kuffner was named chief executive of the venture, called Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development.

Kuffner, a Stanford University graduate and Carnegie Mellon University professor, was a researcher at Google from 2009 to 2016. He’s well known in the coding community as co-inventor of the randomly exploring random tree algorithm, a benchmark in robot motion planning.

Toyota is hoping such talent will help attract “world class” programmers to create a “smooth software pipeline from research to commercialization,” the company said. With 300 employees now, the new company will eventually employ 1,000, Toyota said. Kuffner said he’ll move with his family from Silicon Valley to Tokyo, where the company conducts much of its internal business in English.