Toyota has also jumped into the autonomous driving arena. It has released information showing its automated test vehicle called ‘Highway Teammate’ doing a variety of maneuvers on Tokyo’s Shuto Expressway.
The Highway Teammate is a modified Lexus GS that has autonomous driving enabled on highways from the on-ramp to the off-ramp. The vehicle is loaded with technologies that can evaluate traffic conditions, make decisions and maintain distance with vehicles. The self-driving mode can be enabled at the press of a button after the car has crossed the toll gate and entered the on-ramp.
The Highway Teammate employs multiple external sensors to read the road conditions and then accordingly drives the car, just like a person would, says Toyota. The test vehicle has already accomplished difficult tasks such as entering or exiting highways and executing lane changes.
The Highway Teammate however, is the first step towards a larger focus which Toyota calls “Mobility Teammate Concept.” This concept views the interaction between driver and car as an approach that close friends who share a common purpose have between them, and this includes watching over each other and sometimes helping each other out. It maintains that this approach acknowledges the utility of automated driving and at the same time keeps the fun experience of driving.
The company believes that three types of intelligence are crucial for its Mobility Concept to work:
- Driving Intelligence (advanced recognition and predictive decision-making functions).
- Connected Intelligence (vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication).
- Interactive Intelligence (recognition of driver status, transfer of control between driver and car, etc.).
The world’s second largest car manufacturer sees automated driving technologies as a way to create a society where mobility means safety, efficiency and freedom. The first examples of these technologies are expected to be launched by around 2020.