Tag: toyota automated driving
While Toyota isn’t quite as excited at the prospect of self-driving vehicles as some other automakers on the market are, the auto giant is interested in the potential safety benefits of partially automated vehicles. Toyota would like to create a guardian angel type system that gets people out of trouble when they are about to get into an accident. Similar systems already exist today that wills low your vehicle down and issue warnings to help the driver pay attention, but Toyota wants to take all this a step further to design systems that will actually prevent accidents through more advanced self-driving.
Safety Maneuvers out on the Road
Right now there are vehicles that can slow you down before you rear end someone else. That’s pretty cool, and very helpful, but it’s also pretty basic. Imagine a vehicle that can speed you up when you’re about to be hit from the side to help you dodge the impact. Or a vehicle that can change the direction of your vehicle to help you go around a drunk driver that swerves into your lane. This is the kind of tech that Toyota is interested in and the automaker says there is a lot more that can be done with sensors and automatic driving tools.
Safe Driving Earlier on
While Toyota believes that fully-autonomous vehicles are still quite a ways away, an advanced safety setup might not be that far off into the future. It’s possible to create much more advanced safety features over the next year or two, and they could dramatically help make roads safer for drivers of all types. That’s why Toyota wants to focus on these safety tools before worrying about releasing fully self-driving vehicles. They can bring some benefits to drivers earlier on.
There’s a lot to be said for this type of safety advancement in a vehicle, but Toyota won’t say how long it believes the technology will take to develop before release. There are still some issues to work out, such as creating tech that will function alongside a human driver without causing additional problems. There needs to be a balance between vehicle and driver, and that’s something that must be fine-tuned to avoid causing more harm than good.
There was a point in time when Toyota didn’t believe that Autonomous vehicles would be a thing. The company said the tech would be too difficult and that it would be a long way off. Even though Toyota has its doubts about the tech, it’s still pushing forward at full speed trying to make it a reality in their vehicles before other automakers crack the code. One of the key elements to making this all possible is a single figure, 8.8 billion. That’s how many miles of testing that the Toyota technicians believe is necessary before the technology is possible. Wait what! That’s a whole lot of driving.
Toyota has plans to create automated driving that takes over some of the driving responsibilities. The company wants to make it a feature that you can turn on and off, similar to cruise control today. Don’t feel like driving yourself to the mall? Just flip on chaffeur mode, sit back and relax until you reach your destination. That’s the type of tech that Toyota wants to make possible for everyone interested.
Aid the Elderly and Disabled
One of the major benefits of autonomous technology according to Toyota, is the benefit that it will bring to both disabled and elderly people. Anyone that would normally have difficulty driving, could seriously benefit from a vehicle that drives itself. It would be a great source of freedom being able to travel independently with a vehicle, without having to worry about actually driving it.
Microsoft and Toyota Team up
Microsoft is helping Toyota by working with the Toyota Gazoo WRC Racing Team. Perhaps, Microsoft will help bring some interesting tech advancements to the company.
With a testing goal of 8.8 billion miles, it will take a significant amount of time before Toyota believes that autonomous vehicles are safe for the general public. By then it’s likely that some other automakers will have released self-driving technology as well, but few will have as much time into testing, research and development, as Toyota does.
While there is a great deal of excitement around self-driving vehicles, for obvious reasons, Toyota understands that that type of technology is still a pretty long way off into the future. Instead of focusing on producing a fully-autonomous vehicle, the company has started developing what it calls Guardian Angel technology instead. This is a set of systems that takes control of the vehicle just long enough to ensure that the driver doesn’t crash. So Toyota cars won’t drive you to the store and back, but in the near future they could swerve to help you avoid a collision or make other evasive maneuvers by briefly taking over control of the vehicle when a situation looks bad.
Toyota’s Chance to Perfect Self Driving
The main issue with fully-autonomous driving is that it’s exceedingly difficult to perfect. The automaker could likely produce cars that drive perfectly most of the time, but it’s those small instances that throw the vehicle off that could lead to real problems. Not only does Toyota not want to deal with the liability that could come from a component failure or a miscalculation, but the automaker doesn’t want to scare drivers away from autonomous driving either. There are many people against self-driving cars already, and that’s before any serious crashes have occurred. Just think how much more criticism there will be around the technology if something serious happened because of a computer mistake.
Toyota puts more than 10 million cars out on the road every year. With that level of traffic the automaker’s technology would be tested out on over 1 trillion miles each year. With numbers that high, even a very tiny possibility for failure would result in some significant issues. The automaker is relying on its Guardian Angel system to test out self-driving technology and to help with perfecting it before any serious issues result.
The Technology at Work
Toyota hasn’t specified everything this new Guardian Angel technology will be able to do yet, but the automaker says it will likely communicate over short range communication with other vehicles to pick out major issues like fast braking or loss of control in those vehicles. It will likely be able to full-pedal brake, something that forward collision systems today aren’t capable of doing. It’s likely the system will also be able to change lanes and perhaps use the shoulder for emergencies as well.
Testing and Developing the Technology
All the technology and equipment necessary to make Guardian Angel work on Toyota vehicles hasn’t been developed yet, but the automaker has three different research facilities in the United States working on autonomous technology, and a simulation center at a Japan facility to help with perfecting the technology in its final stages. One facility is located in Palo Alto California, another at Cambridge Massachusetts and the final one is being developed in Ann Arbor Michigan. Each has a different focus, but they are all working toward creating vehicles that can easily drive themselves around.
When working toward such revolutionary technology, it’s wise to move in small incremental steps until finally reaching the major goal of vehicles that can handle all standard driving conditions. Toyota realizes this, and the Guardian Angel project is just one of those steps that could really make driving safer in the process.