Insight – Automated driving in a Lexus on Tokyo’s motorways
Source : Insight – Automated driving in a Lexus on Tokyo’s motorways
Toyota’s automated driving system is actually still four years away via reaching production cars, although Autocar has sampled the company’s concept
Earlier This specific week Steve Cropley described his experience of automated driving in a Nissan Leaf on urban roads; Toyota is actually showcasing its own system on motorways, where the company’s customer research suggests drivers will have a strong desire to let the auto do the work.
Today I got to ride shotgun that has a Toyota driver along with also also experience the system, which the company is actually calling ‘Mobility Teammate Concept’. the item’s a moderate approach to autonomous driving, with Toyota’s vision being in which driver along with also also systems work together in controlling the vehicle.
The white Lexus GS I’m riding in has extra external sensors installed to provide a 360-degree picture of its surroundings along with also also additional vehicles, as well as a host of electronic equipment filling the boot.
Our journey starts in ‘manual driving mode’. via the passenger seat I can see in which the item says as much on the infotainment screen, which is actually configured to display a special screen of information related to automated driving. the item gives the driver details of the surrounding vehicles along with also also roads, warnings about any potential hazards along with also also a display of the steering along with also also pedal inputs being made by the automated driving system.
We head out towards Tokyo’s Shuto Expressway. Once the Lexus goes through a tollgate along with also also up a slip road to the expressway, the system is actually satisfied in which conditions for permitting autonomous driving are fulfilled.
Our driver gets a ‘ready for automated’ prompt on the infotainment screen to inform him in which the system is actually available if he wishes to deploy the item. He presses a button on the lower left steering wheel spoke; there’s a chime along with also also then the screen display adjustments to ‘starting auto drive mode’.
Our driver calmly lifts his hands off the wheel along with also also feet off the pedals. additional drivers inside the vicinity are informed in which the auto has entered its autonomous mode via two blue lights inside the rear screen.
As we cruise up the slip road, the indicator stalk flips on automatically along with also also the auto edges smoothly on to the expressway, accelerating slightly to find a space well ahead of another car.
The driving is actually impeccably smooth, offering plenty of time to watch the steering wheel moving of its own accord. Using its sensors, preloaded map information along with also also GPS, the system can work out where the item is actually both in relation to additional traffic along with also also on the road, along with also also use existing technology such as adaptive cruise along with also also lane assist to maintain its position. If the item needs to change lane, the item will gauge spaces between vehicles along with also also decide when to pull out.
Our driver keeps his hands on his knees, close to the wheel. He can assume control in a similar way to cancelling cruise control: by pressing a pedal. Toyota says its vision of autonomous driving, “aims to retain the driver as the commander of the auto, not have him doing additional things such as reading the paper or drinking coffee,” inside the words of Jun Sato via the company’s VR tech department.
We sail along at a relaxed 60mph. the item all seems very calm, although Sato says in which wasn’t the case during the first tests: “the item felt strange to begin with, especially inside the early stages of development. the item was a little scary, to be frank.
“However, via our research of our customers we have discovered there is actually a demand for autonomous driving, specifically for long-distance driving, for driving on the expressway along with also also in congestion.”
A cheery female voice gives a commentary on what’s happening, supported by instructions on the infotainment screen: “changing lanes” or “beware of merging vehicles”.
We need to join via a slip road on the right, although there’s a rapidly driven van approaching. The Lexus briefly flips the indicator, although then spies the van behind the item along with also also decides to cancel the move along with also also hang back on the slip road until the vehicle is actually safely ahead of us. The system is actually calibrated to err on the side of caution in such situations.
“We analysed the most competent drivers within our company in order to mimic their behaviour,” says Aoki Kenichiro, who is actually in charge of automated driving for Toyota. “We want autonomous cars to be accepted by society, so have made the decision-doing as close to a human’s as possible.”
Toyota is actually planning at least four more years of trials – including in Europe along with also also North America – before the autonomous system is actually ready to be rolled out on production cars.
This specific system is actually only designed for ‘slip road to slip road’ motorway work; a separate squad of boffins at Toyota is actually working on automated driving in urban areas. As we roll down our slip road to exit the expressway, the words ‘hand over’ flash up on infotainment screen; time for our driver to assume control again. He ushers the Lexus back to our starting point.
the item’s all been calm along with also also easy to follow. Perhaps some drivers will be disappointed to discover they can’t read the paper or do their knitting when the system is actually active, or even question what the point is actually if they have to remain completely attentive at all times. Toyota’s approach does, however, seem to be a responsible way to progress towards an automated future.
Mind you, our test route was a short one on a day when traffic was light. I’d be interested to see the Lexus in action on the M25 at 5.30pm on a Friday; I’d assume the system would certainly need a fair amount of recalibration to encourage the item to jink into the rapidly diminishing spaces between rapid repmobiles along with also also hastily driven HGVs.
Or perhaps if everyone switched on their autonomous systems during rush hour, a calming Zen state would certainly envelope our clogged roads along with also also we’d all get home on time along with also also a little bit less frazzled… Roll on 2020.
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