Toyota is Testing Autonomous Vehicles

Not one to be left behind by other automakers in what is considered the future of the automobile industry, Toyota has finally unveiled its first Autonomous Test Vehicle.  The vehicle is developed entirely by Toyota’s Research Institute. The model was displayed to the public during the recent Prius Challenge Event held at Sonoma Raceway.  This event brings together technologists, entrepreneurs and automotive enthusiasts to discuss with the Toyota Research Institute about promoting mobility, robotics, data science and artificial intelligence. This is not the first time Toyota has tested autonomous driven vehicles in the U.S. In fact, the automaker began this endeavor as early as 2005 but it only received government patents in 2006. It will be surprising to learn that despite the fact that Toyota has been a bit quiet about its autonomous vehicle strategy, the automaker holds the most patents in the autonomous industry more than any other automaker. Read along to find out more about this Autonomous Test Vehicle:

Rapid progress

The new platform is an evolution of the advanced safety research of the vehicle the automaker showcased to the public during the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show. The system is considered computationally rich. It focuses on machine learning and machine vision. Unlike most autonomous systems that rely heavily on high-definition maps, the Toyota’s system uses radar, LIDAR and camera sensor arrays. This is wise of the automaker considering there are terrains where such high-definition maps do not yet exist.

The 2.0 system is built on the Lexus LS 600hL, a car that features a vigorous drive-by-wire interface. The good thing about the 2.0 system is that it is flexible allowing for continuous upgrades. The automaker has taken a two-path approach with the system; they are christened “Chauffeur” and “Guardian”.

Chauffeur and Guardian explained

According to Toyota, the Chauffeur is a conventional autonomous system. The system is always switched. In addition, it has the capability of entirely unlimited SAE level 5 autonomy. This means that the vehicle has the capability to drive entirely on its now without the need of any human intervention. However, the system still operates in SAE Level 4 autonomy with geofencing.

On the other hand, the Guardian is designed with the idea that the driver should exercise ultimate control. This system scans the environment while a human driver drives. Its purpose is to alert the driver of any potential dangers and if the human driver does not respond to avert a collision, the system intervenes instead.

Of the two systems, Toyota believes the Guardian is likely to be commercialized in the near future as it still depends on human control. Once deployed for commercial use, the Guardian will provide high-level drive-assists that will help mitigate collisions and thus help save lives. The automaker also pointed out that both systems will continuously learn from the human driver habits. They will also share data with other vehicles with similar systems on the road.


Toyota’s is fully committed to autonomous technology as seen with its dedication to continue improving the safety of its models via using autonomous features on its vehicle such as Automatic Emergency Braking (ABS). ABS will be offered as standard equipment on almost all Toyota and Lexus models by end of this year. The automaker wants to meet this targeted way before the NHTSA target date of 2022.

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