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Toyota unveils new self-driving safety tech, targets 2020 autonomous drive

by vlad on Вторник, Октябрь 6th, 2015

TOKYO — Toyota Motor Corp. said it will deploy autonomous driving systems by 2020 and take a big step forward this year by launching technology that allows vehicles to talk to each other, scan blind spots, warn of changing lights and keep a safe distance from other cars.

The company is also test driving more advanced autonomous drive technologies in a modified Lexus GS that can merge on highways and even change lanes by itself.

The goal is to deploy those autonomous drive technologies by around 2020.

Toyota is introducing the safety technologies in a push to burnish its safety credentials as automakers seek to differentiate themselves from rivals.

Toyota is introducing the safety technologies in a push to burnish its safety credentials as automakers seek to differentiate themselves from rivals.

Japan’s biggest automaker unveiled the new systems at an Oct. 6 demonstration near the Tokyo waterfront. The vehicle communication system, called ITS Connect, goes on sale in Japan this year, first in a mid-cycle update of the Toyota Crown luxury sedan.

Toyota is introducing the technologies in a push to burnish its safety credentials as automakers seek to differentiate themselves from rivals. The systems are also basic building-block technologies that will underpin future autonomous cars.

“It’s an important step for us,” Toyota Chief Safety Technology Officer Moritaka Yoshida said. “Automatic driving is a technology that will change the concept of the car.”

Many automakers, including Toyota, say they have reached a point of diminishing returns from improvements in passive systems such as stronger body frames and seat belts. Faster gains are expected from technologies that prevent crashes to begin with.

“We’ve seen these systems trickle down from top-of-line luxury cars into the mainstream market and they have become a focus of marketing campaigns for many automakers,” said John O’Dell, senior editor of Edmunds.com. “No car company that hopes to compete in today’s global auto market can ignore these technologies.”

Toyota has already introduced a set of pre-crash automatic braking systems. The Safety Sense C package fits small cars such as the Corolla and uses a laser sensor and camera to gauge obstacles and slow or stop the car before a potential collision. Safety Sense P, meanwhile, is for larger vehicles, such as the Land Cruiser, and adds pedestrian detection.

Toyota is among several automakers, including Nissan Motor Co. and General Motors, now setting a 2020 horizon for the deployment of more advanced self-driving technologies.

Initial demand is expected to be slow, however. Global sales of self-driving or driverless cars won’t exceed 2 million units a year until 2029, predicts IHS Automotive.

Toyota will deploy these technologies first in Japan, where the government and automotive industry have agreed on standardization of such items as the dedicated wireless bandwidth. A U.S. introduction date will depend on similar moves by U.S. regulators and carmakers, Toyota has said.

But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has backed vehicle-to-vehicle systems as the way forward in the U.S., and Toyota wants to be an early adopter.

With an eye further down the road, Toyota is already testing advanced autonomous drive technologies on Japanese highways. The program, Highway Teammate, uses a modified Lexus GS that can merge and exit highways, maintain and change lanes and keep a constant distance from other vehicles on the road, all without driver input, Toyota said.

The technology relies on highly accurate road mapping and external sensors. By constantly monitoring such input, the car automatically moves the steering wheel and operates the accelerator and brakes to drive the car.

Toyota said it aims to launch products based on Highway Teammate around 2020.

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