Toyota Research Institute announces breakthrough generative AI approach for rapid robotic skill learning, moving closer to building large behavior models for robots; the advancement improves robot utility and efficiency without writing new codes

Sample article from our Transformation & Innovation

LOS ALTOS, California and CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts , September 19, 2023 (press release) –

New Generative AI Technique Brings Researchers One Step Closer to Building a “Large Behavior Model”

Today, Toyota Research Institute (TRI) announced a breakthrough generative AI approach based on Diffusion Policy to quickly and confidently teach robots new, dexterous skills. This advancement significantly improves robot utility and is a step towards building “Large Behavior Models (LBMs)” for robots, analogous to the Large Language Models (LLMs) that have recently revolutionized conversational AI.

“Our research in robotics is aimed at amplifying people rather than replacing them,” said Gill Pratt, CEO of TRI and Chief Scientist for Toyota Motor Corporation. “This new teaching technique is both very efficient and produces very high performing behaviors, enabling robots to much more effectively amplify people in many ways.”

Previous state-of-the-art techniques to teach robots new behaviors were slow, inconsistent, inefficient, and often limited to narrowly defined tasks performed in highly constrained environments. Roboticists needed to spend many hours writing sophisticated code and/or using numerous trial and error cycles to program behaviors.

TRI has already taught robots more than 60 difficult, dexterous skills using the new approach, including pouring liquids, using tools, and manipulating deformable objects. These achievements were realized without writing a single line of new code; the only change was supplying the robot with new data. Building on this success, TRI has set an ambitious target of teaching hundreds of new skills by the end of the year and 1,000 by the end of 2024.

Today’s news also highlights that robots can be taught to function in new scenarios and perform a wide range of behaviors. These skills are not limited to just “‘pick and place” or simply picking up objects and putting them down in new locations. TRI’s robots can now interact with the world in varied and rich ways — which will one day allow robots to support people in everyday situations and unpredictable, ever-changing environments.



“The tasks that I’m watching these robots perform are simply amazing – even one year ago, I would not have predicted that we were close to this level of diverse dexterity,” remarked Russ Tedrake, Vice President of Robotics Research at TRI. Dr. Tedrake, who is also the Toyota Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Aeronautics and Astronautics, and Mechanical Engineering at MIT, explained, “What is so exciting about this new approach is the rate and reliability with which we can add new skills. Because these skills work directly from camera images and tactile sensing, using only learned representations, they are able to perform well even on tasks that involve deformable objects, cloth, and liquids — all of which have traditionally been extremely difficult for robots.”

Technical details:

TRI’s robot behavior model learns from haptic demonstrations from a teacher, combined with a language description of the goal. It then uses an AI-based Diffusion Policy to learn the demonstrated skill. This process allows a new behavior to be deployed autonomously from dozens of demonstrations. Not only does this approach produce consistent, repeatable, and performant results, but it does so with tremendous speed.

Key achievements of TRI’s research for this novel development include:

  • Diffusion Policy: TRI and our collaborators in Professor Song’s group at Columbia University developed a new, powerful generative-AI approach to behavior learning. This approach, called Diffusion Policy, enables easy and rapid behavior teaching from demonstration.
  • Customized Robot Platform: TRI’s robot platform is custom-built for dexterous dual-arm manipulation tasks with a special focus on enabling haptic feedback and tactile sensing.
  • Pipeline: TRI robots have learned 60 dexterous skills already, with a target of hundreds by the end of the year and 1,000 by the end of 2024.
  • Drake: Part of our (not so) secret sauce is Drake, a model-based design for robotics that provides us with a cutting-edge toolbox and simulation platform. Drake’s high degree of realism allows us to develop in both simulation and in reality at a dramatically increased scale and velocity than would otherwise be possible. Our internal robot stack is built using Drake’s optimization and systems frameworks, and we have made Drake open source to catalyze work across the entire robotics community.
  • Safety: Safety is core to our robotics efforts at TRI. We have designed our system with strong safeguards, powered by Drake and our custom robot control stack, to ensure our robots respect safety guarantees like not colliding with itself or its environment.

Diffusion Policy has been published at the 2023 Robotics Science and Systems conference. Additional technical information can be found on TRI’s Medium blog

Please join our LinkedIn Live Q&A session on October 4th from 1 pm – 2 pm ET / 10 am – 11 am PT, for an opportunity to learn more and hear directly from the TRI robotics research team. Sign up for the event on TRI’s LinkedIn page.

About Toyota Research Institute

Toyota Research Institute (TRI) conducts research to amplify human ability, focusing on making our lives safer and more sustainable. Led by Dr. Gill Pratt, TRI’s team of researchers develops technologies to advance energy and materials, human-centered artificial intelligence, human interactive driving, machine learning, and robotics. Established in 2015, TRI has offices in Los Altos, California, and Cambridge, Massachusetts. For more information about TRI, please visit

Wendy Rosen
Senior Director of Communications

* All content is copyrighted by Industry Intelligence, or the original respective author or source. You may not recirculate, redistrubte or publish the analysis and presentation included in the service without Industry Intelligence's prior written consent. Please review our terms of use.

See our dashboard in action - schedule an demo
Chelsey Quick
Chelsey Quick
- VP Client Success -

We offer built-to-order transformation & innovation coverage for our clients. Contact us for a free consultation.

About Us

We deliver market news & information relevant to your business.

We monitor all your market drivers.

We aggregate, curate, filter and map your specific needs.

We deliver the right information to the right person at the right time.

Our Contacts

1990 S Bundy Dr. Suite #380,
Los Angeles, CA 90025

+1 (310) 553 0008

About Cookies On This Site

We collect data, including through use of cookies and similar technology ("cookies") that enchance the online experience. By clicking "I agree", you agree to our cookies, agree to bound by our Terms of Use, and acknowledge our Privacy Policy. For more information on our data practices and how to exercise your privacy rights, please see our Privacy Policy.