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Oct 25, 2017,  by Allianz Partners Business Insights

Toyota making strides with its self-driving car

Like many other carmakers, among them Volkswagen, Toyota has made its move into autonomous vehicles and has come up with a series of ingenious innovations in its new driving system.

Recently unveiled by the team of engineers who have designed it, the Japanese car manufacturer’s new self-driving 2.1 Platform is being developed at the Toyota Research Institute (TRI) in Silicon Valley.


An ultra-autonomous driving system


According to the website, The Toyota Research Institute is calling on the services of the startup Luminar, which has raised $36 million in seed-stage funding to develop innovative LiDaR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology. Integrated into a new self-driving research system called Chauffeur, the technology is designed to enable Toyota’s future driving system to achieve Level 4 to 5 autonomy, the highest possible levels. The system will also use specific AI algorithms to enable the correct driving choices to be made.

In addition to Chauffeur, Toyota’s sensor-filled self-driving vehicles of tomorrow will be equipped with a second advanced driver-assist system capable of avoiding road accidents. Thanks to an internal camera system that monitors the driver’s behaviour, the system – known as Guardian – can detect drowsiness and take control of the vehicle by switching over to fully autonomous driving.


Successfully trialled


As well as being fitted out with equipment offering the highest level of autonomy, the Lexus saloon car that is currently being used as a test vehicle at the Toyota Research Institute is also equipped with a steering wheel on the passenger side and a pedal, the manufacturer’s intention being to give the user the option of retaking control of the car. Toyota have also said that their 2.1 Platform is capable of assimilating the driver’s knowledge, with the aim, for example, of then passing on advice to less experienced users.

The car successfully demonstrated both the Chauffeur and Guardian modes at a trial held at the Toyota Research Institute in late September. In Chauffeur mode (fully autonomous), it was able to detect and navigate its way around straw bales dropped in its path before then overtaking another car, changing lanes in both cases in complete safety. Operating in the semi-autonomous Guardian mode, the car then took over when the driver pretended to fall asleep and be ill, and also took control to prevent a potential accident when a second car executed a sudden change in direction.

The Japanese firm has yet to state what its commercial objectives are. There seems little doubt, however, that the manufacturer – which according to the latest Interbrand ranking has a brand value of just over $50bn in 2017 – is set to play a significant role in the self-driving car sector.



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