An AI star seeks to bring self-driving cars to Japan by 2030

Issei Yamamoto became one of Japan’s best-known developers of artificial intelligence when his algorithm defeated the top-ranked player of shogi.
Now, he’s pursuing an even more challenging task of human emulation: achieving a fully self-driving automotive system.

The 38-year-old is returning to the public eye with the backing of some of Japan’s biggest businesses, including a unit of Mizuho Financial Group and NTT Docomo Ventures, which have invested in his startup, Turing.

The firm raised ¥3 billion ($19.4 million) in a seed round valuing it at $100 million, according to people familiar with the matter.

Turing stands out in a country that appears to have fallen behind in the race to produce next-generation electric and autonomous cars.

Japan is home to some of the world’s largest automakers, including Toyota Motor and Honda Motor, which for years favored the internal combustion engines used in conventional gasoline cars and hydrogen-powered ones.

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