Today Toyota and Lexus unveiled a high-tech autonomous vehicle at CES 2013 that could pave the way towards self-driving cars in the near future. Although it isn’t fully driverless, the Advanced Active Safety Research Vehicle features a set of automated technologies designed to enhance drivers’ skills and reduce global traffic fatalities and injuries. The research vehicle is based on a Lexus LS and it incorporates next-gen sensors and systems to detect traffic light changes, warn drivers about dangerous obstacles, and monitor the vehicle’s position in traffic lanes to prevent swerving.
Toyota’s guiding strategy, called the Integrated Safety Management Concept, takes a holistic approach to traffic safety that considers people, vehicles and the driving environment. The strategy covers five phases of operation: the initial time the driver and car begin a journey from a parked position, active safety systems designed to avoid a crash, pre-crash systems aimed at preparing for a collision, passive safety design to help passengers survive a crash, and rescue and response systems that kick in after a crash has occurred.
“In our pursuit of developing more advanced automated technologies, we believe the driver must be fully engaged,” said Mark Templin, Toyota group vice president and general manger of the Lexus Division.“For Toyota and Lexus, a driverless car is just a part of the story. Our vision is a car equipped with an intelligent, always-attentive co-pilot whose skills contribute to safer driving.”
The Lexus Advanced Active Safety Research vehicle unveiled today is equipped with an array of sensors and automated control systems to observe, process and respond to the vehicle’s surroundings. This system uses GPS, stereo cameras, radar and light detection and ranging (LIDAR) laser tracking to scan the movement of objects around it. It’s also able to identify a green light from a red light and measure the trajectory of other vehicle on the road.
Many of the safety technologies on the research vehicle are already available in the 2013 Lexus LS flagship sedan. The Lexus LS is offered with a pre-collision system that helps the driver avoid or mitigate collisions with vehicles or pedestrians under a wide range of city or highway speeds. The sedan also features an upgraded lane-keep assist system that uses sensors to help monitor the vehicle’s position within the driving lane. A blind spot monitor with rear millimeter-wave radar monitors the vehicle rear side blind spots at 10 miles per hour or more, and rear cross traffic alert helps warn drivers to the approach of other vehicles when backing up. Lastly adaptive cruise control monitors the distance to vehicles ahead and is capable of operating at any speed, bringing the vehicle to a complete stop, and resuming at the preset speed once the road ahead is clear.