Many automakers around the world are looking into the development of autonomous cars that can take away the duty of driving full or part-time. But touch a button on the steering wheel and let the Toyota do the rest, the future is here now.
From Google to Mercedes companies are rushing to deliver semi-autonomous driving features or even fully automated vehicles but Toyota looks one step ahead of the pack – they already showcased in Tokyo the new automated expressway driving. The “highway teammate” concept car, a modified Lexus GS sedan, is currently capable of automated features such as coping with public expressway entering, switching lanes and steering to the off ramp, meanwhile coping with surrounding traffic to choose the best scenarios for speeding up or slowing down. This week looks like the week of such autonomous features, as Mercedes participated with its own modified S Class into a similar experience in the US during a well known television show (“60 minutes”).
Such demonstrations showcase the level of research attained by companies such as Toyota or Mercedes-Benz in developing the technology that makes cars the driver’s co-pilot, another step closer to the day when vehicles will become fully autonomous. “The technology we’re showing today is at the level where all the operation for driving is possible by itself,” commented Moritaka Yoshida, Toyota’s chief safety technology officer. “We will keep increasing its accuracy.” The Japanese carmaker will start offering a separate safety technology in Japan that makes use of a dedicated radio frequency to communicate with the surrounding infrastructure and other cars – the Crown sedan would be the first of three models to have the new features.