Toyota Motor Corporation, one of the leading car developing companies, announces their vision for the future. By 2020, the company plans to introduce a new model, which will be fully automated and self-driving. The project is timed to the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
Such research is being made by many other corporations, including Google. One of the modern technologies, called “mobility teammate concept” was demonstrated during the regular Tokyo freeway in 2015. It combined artificial intelligence together with the driver, allowing them working as a team. A sensor-packed Lexus was used for a demonstration. During the presentation, the vehicle was driving 60 kpm for 10 minutes. It was automatically changing lanes, steering and so on, while the driver did nothing but turned a special button for shifting the technologies. It appeared to be a great achievement for Toyota, which has been working on the project since the 1990s. During that time, the prospects seemed unreal and even dangerous.
Toyota is also going to implement other new technologies to their vehicle. One of the most prominent of them is ITS Connect. It is already available in particular models of the cars. As the company’s representatives say, the system is able to gather all the possible data to avoid the collision and send alert signals when necessary. For instance, the driver will always be aware of approaching vehicles or will be warned about approaching ambulance and its path. It might become possible thanks to the vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology. Thus, the blind spots won’t be a problem anymore. The other part of the system is vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, which helps to get signals from the traffic lights and other signs. For example, the operator will be reported, when he or she should slow down or where the pedestrians are crossing the street. The driver will also know about the distance between the vehicles (of course, the corresponding rules should be worked out). The engineers claim that this is mostly the support for the drivers rather than automated driving. But the prospect of the self-driving cars still exists. Toyota Motors develops both software and hardware for it.
The system was tested in Toyota City, where a special ground had been modeled after the real urban area. The US cars haven’t been tested yet.
The main reason of such rash development is safety for both drivers and pedestrians. Toyota’s plans are aimed at lowering fatalities and their risks, which are caused by people’s errors. There is, for instance, a great problem with car crashes on interjections in Japan. Besides, as Toyota Chief Safety Technology Officer says, they want to make driving available not for the healthy people, but also for disabled and elderly persons.
There is only one thing concerning this initiative. All the advantages will take effect as soon as more cars have such system and more equipment is installed in the streets. It should consist of a radar and transmitter-receiver box, which might be located on the utility pole. By 2015, there were just 20 of them across the whole Japan. However, by spring 2016, they were already about 50. It sounds promising and probably by 2020, they will really manage to deliver new technologies to the masses. In fact, the equipment is thought to cost as much as a standard traffic light system.
Both automakers and authorities are waiting for each other. That’s why the effective development is possible only while working hand in hand. Anyway, Toyota has decided to make the first step.