The race is on to get increasingly sophisticated forms of autonomous driving technology on the road, and brands like Tesla are bringing these solutions to some drivers now. But as one of the world’s largest automakers, it’s no surprise to see Toyota competing in the field, as well. By 2020, the company thinks a person could be largely unnecessary for freeway trips. With a suite of tech called the Highway Teammate, a modified Lexus GS is already showing what’s possible.
Using a combination of millimeter wave radar, LIDAR, and cameras, the GS gets a full view of the road, and software processes all of the info to make decisions. The result is a ride on the freeway without human interaction. The system can merge, change lanes, make passes, take curves, and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles. Accurate map data is a necessity to make this work, so the system currently only being tested on Tokyo’s Shuto Expressway.
While Highway Teammate might not be the best name, it accurately communicates the way Toyota thinks of the tech. The company is making big investments in artificial intelligence to assist drivers, not completely replace them. You can see the system in action in the video below, and the second clip’s gravely serious narrator explains the company’s idea of having a fully connected road someday.
New Toyota Test Vehicle Paves the Way for Commercialization of Automated Highway Driving Technologies
Toyota City, Japan, October 6, 2015―Toyota has been testing a new automated driving test vehicle called Highway Teammate, with the aim of launching related products by around 2020. In addition to demonstrating the capabilities of next-generation safety technologies, the vehicle represents Toyota’s view of the evolving driver-car relationship in the age of artificial intelligence.
Toyota believes that interactions between drivers and cars should mirror those between close friends who share a common purpose, sometimes watching over each other and sometimes helping each other out. Toyota refers to this approach as the Mobility Teammate Concept, and Highway Teammate represents an important first effort to give form to this concept.
Highway Teammate has been tested on Tokyo’s Shuto Expressway during a series of maneuvering trials covering a variety of automated functions, including merging onto or exiting highways, and maintaining or changing lanes.
Highway Teammate, a modified Lexus GS, features equipment that enables automated driving on highways from the on-ramp all the way through to the off-ramp. It uses on-board technology to evaluate traffic conditions, make decisions and take action during highway driving. This includes merging onto or exiting highways, maintaining or changing lanes, and maintaining inter-vehicle distances.
To engage automated operation, the driver switches to automated driving after passing through a toll gate and entering a highway on-ramp. Highway Teammate is able to pinpoint its position using highly accurate road map data. It also uses multiple external sensors to recognize nearby vehicles and hazards, and selects appropriate routes and lanes depending on the destination. Based on these data inputs, Highway Teammate then automatically operates the steering wheel, accelerator, and brakes to achieve the appropriate speed and driving lines in much the same way as a person would drive.
By successfully combining recognition and decision-making processes with the ability to take action, Highway Teammate embodies the kind of safety technology that is expected to play a key role in future products. Toyota believes that mobility should mean safety, efficiency and freedom, and is ramping up its research into and development of automated driving technologies, with the goal of launching products based on Highway Teammate by around 2020.
Mobility Teammate Concept
Toyota has been researching and developing automated driving technologies since the 1990s. Its aim is to contribute to realizing the ultimate goal of a society that values mobility, which is the elimination of traffic casualties, and to provide everyone, including seniors and the disabled, with the means to freedom of mobility. Toyota uses the name Mobility Teammate Concept to refer to its approach to automated driving: building relationships between people and cars that share the same purpose, like close friends who sometimes watch over each other and sometimes help each other out. This approach acknowledges the utility of automated driving technologies while maintaining the fun experience of driving itself.
Toyota believes there are three types of intelligence that are crucial to the success of the Mobility Teammate Concept:
Driving Intelligence (advanced recognition and predictive decision-making functions);
Connected Intelligence (vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, as exemplified by the recently announced ITS Connect system)
Interactive Intelligence (recognition of driver status, transfer of control between driver and car, etc.)
Toyota will enhance its development of these automated driving technologies with the aim of achieving a society where mobility means safety, efficiency and freedom.
Toyota aims to build autonomous car around 2020 [w/videos]