Toyota To Bring Autonomous Cars To The Road In Five Years
October 11, 2013

Toyota To Bring Autonomous Cars To The Road In Five Years

Peter Suciu for - Your Universe Online

Those who hate to drive might soon be able to let the car take the wheel, so to speak, as Toyota Motor Corporation has laid out specifics on autonomous car technologies that will move into high-gear by the mid-2010s, the company announced on Friday.

Toyota’s core autonomous car technology, the Automated Highway Driving Assist (AHDA) is based on two specific new features including the Cooperative-adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Trace Control. The former allows wireless communication with preceding vehicles to maintain safe distance, while the latter aids steering to keep the vehicle on an optimal driving line.

The company also noted the importance of the driver being in the ultimate control of a vehicle, and Toyota announced that it is aiming to introduce AHDA along with other advanced driving support systems that would allow the driver to maintain control as well as the “fun-to-drive” aspect of the controlling the vehicle. Toyota is planning to market AHDA within the next decade, while rolling out other driving support systems as soon as possible to provide increased safety and security on the road.

The company announced that it will begin trials on the Shuto Expressway near the Tokyo metropolitan area beginning October 15, and will exhibit AHDA at the 20th Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress Tokyo 2013. This international conference for intelligent transport systems (ITS) will be held from October 14 to 18.

“These advanced driving support technologies prevent human errors, reduce driving stress and help drivers avert accidents, which has a big potential to reduce the number of traffic deaths,” Toyota managing director Moritaka Yoshida said at a presentation in Tokyo, as reported by AFP.

The AHDA has already been in production vehicles for a number of years, and it relies on radar and stereoscopic cameras to detect the speed of the traffic ahead. However, in contrast to the standard radar cruise control - which utilizes millimeter-wave radar to detect other vehicles), Cooperative-adaptive Cruise Control uses 700-MHz band vehicle-to-vehicle ITS communications; and this allows for the car to transmit acceleration and deceleration data from preceding vehicles. This in turn allows subsequent vehicles to adjust the speeds accordingly.

The Lane Trace Control, a completely new Toyota automated driving technology, further employs high-performance cameras and millimeter-wave radar, as well as advanced control software. Together this enables an optimal and smooth driving line at all speeds, and the system can adjust the vehicle’s steering angle, driving torque and braking force as necessary to maintain the optimal line within a lane.

Toyota won’t be the only cars doing the driving.

Rival Nissan, as well as technology giant Google, are both in a race to beat Toyota to deliver the world’s first commercially available driverless vehicle. In August Nissan announced that it will offer several models that utilize a driverless feature by the year 2020. GM, as well as Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler AG, also have autonomous vehicles in the works, which are expected to do the driving on controlled-access highways by 2020.

The racetrack to market will likely get even more crowded in the near future. Auto industry research analyst firm Frost & Sullian noted last week that Google will not likely remain the only non-automotive participant in the market for driverless automobiles.

“Contrary to popular belief, Google’s self-driving vehicle project is not going to disrupt the way vehicles are made,” said Frost & Sullivan Team Leader Automotive & Transportation Prana T. Natarajan in a statement. “Just as automakers have started adding a socket for an aux-cable or a USB slot, they will ensure that their vehicles are Google-X ready. For that matter, Google may not even be the only non-automotive participant in the space for too long.”