“We will actively continue the development of autonomous driving technologies, but we are considering commercializing autonomous driving technologies that do not change the sovereignty of the driver,” said Moritaka Yoshida, Chief Safety Technology Officer and senior managing officer at Toyota. “For Toyota, advanced driving assist technologies are for safety and realizing zero traffic deaths.”
In 2013, Toyota demonstrated the AHDA (automated highway driving assist) technology, which controls the gas pedal and steering for autonomous driving, on the Shuto Expressway. This time, the company made improvements to the “Lexus GS,” which was tested in the demonstration in 2013, and exhibited it at the meeting.
Specifically, the new test vehicle is equipped with six laser radar devices using near-infrared light on the front and rear sides and uses higher-accuracy map data. With the laser radar devices, which enable 360° monitoring, in addition to milliwave radar devices and stereo cameras, the vehicle can autonomously run by passing through an ETC (electronic toll collection) gate, entering the main road, keeping the lane and switching lanes to exit the expressway.
Though the previous AHDA technology enables to go around a small curve on the Shuto Expressway while keeping the lane, it requires the driver to manually switch lanes and enter the main road.
Toyota has already succeeded in autonomously carrying out such operations at its Higashi Fuji Laboratory but plans to start to test them on the Tomei Expressway near the laboratory in December 2014.
“We are developing the advanced driving assist technologies in the aim of commercializing them within two or three years,” Yoshida said.
It seems that Toyota aims to realize a system capable of reducing load on the driver by controlling steering and acceleration more on automobile roads such as expressways.