Meeting of the Minds Speaker

James Kuffner

Chief Technology Officer

Toyota Research Institute

James Kuffner is chief technology officer and area lead for cloud intelligence at the Toyota Research Institute (TRI) and an adjunct associate professor at the Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University.

Kuffner is responsible for helping define TRI’s technology and engineering strategy, and manages key research and engineering teams. James also serves as Area Lead for Cloud Intelligence. He is best known as co-inventor of the Rapidly-exploring Random Tree (RRT) algorithm, which has become a standard benchmark for robot motion planning. He has published over 125 technical papers, holds more than 40 patents, and received the Okawa Foundation Award for Young Researchers in 2007.

In 2009, James joined Google as part of the initial engineering team building Google’s self-driving car. He is known for introducing the term “Cloud Robotics” in 2010 to describe how network-connected robots could take advantage of distributed computation and data stored in the cloud. In 2014, he was appointed head of Google’s Robotics division, which he co-founded along with Andy Rubin. He received a Ph.D. from the Stanford University Dept. of Computer Science Robotics Laboratory in 1999, and was a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Tokyo working on software and planning algorithms for humanoid robots. He joined the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute in 2002.