Toyota’s Luxury Cars More Automated, But Not Driverless

The MIT Technology Review has a detailed summary of Toyota’s most recent offerings in automated automobiles.  The Lexus LS will have number of sensors for automated safety, including oriented GPS, 360-degree laser scan (LIDAR), millimeter-wave radar, several accelerometers, and optical/stereo cameras. Exactly the equipment you would expect in a self-driving car. But Toyota is not marketing this as a automated or “driverless” vehicle:

Toyota is also working to allow a car to understand road and traffic conditions much as a human driver would—for example, by observing traffic signals. “That may, over time, evolve into a fully autonomous car,” said Templin. The research is motivated by a desire to “eliminate future traffic-related fatalities and injuries.”

[D]espite signaling that Toyota’s research was leading it in that direction—Templin added that he didn’t see “autonomous” as being synonymous with “driverless.” Even as successively advanced autonomous features are introduced to Toyota and Lexus vehicles, he said, humans would remain in control. A future car could be considered a “skilled, intelligent, and attentive copilot.”

I thinks it’s great that Toyota is putting the emphasis on the safety of all cars, albeit starting with an expensive model. Such advanced sensing equipment and software may lead to a standard  for safety applications and driver assistance. Then, more robust automation can be added to the same platform. Reducing crashes and human injury should be priority number one.

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