Can Toyota’s Self-Driving Lexus save you from Accidents?
Mert Bal posted on January 10, 2013 |
Safe drinking and driving may be possible with Toyota's self-driving, advanced safety vehicle.

“Yes officer, I’ve been drinking. But I’m not driving! I’m just a passenger here in the driver’s seat!”  These might be the worst words you could ever say if you are pulled over.  But one day, perhaps, that may change.

This week at CES Toyota introduced its self-driving car called the “Advanced Active Safety Research Vehicle” at CES 2013. The vehicle, built on a Lexus LS 600 passenger car, assists the driver and takes control when it sees an accident coming. 

Toyota makes it clear that, rather than being autonomous car, this is a research vehicle designed to avoid collisions with pedestrians and other automobiles.  It navigates based on a detailed electronic map and can accurately perceive roadway information including traffic lanes and signals. The gadgets used for recognition hang off the top and front of the car. 

  • A 360-degree LIDAR unit on the roof detects objects up to about 200 feet away.
  • Three high-definition color cameras detect further objects like traffic lights and approaching vehicles using front and side cameras.
  • Radars on the front and sides measure the location and speed of other travelers to create a comprehensive field of vision at intersections.
  • A rotary encoder located on a rear wheel measures travel distance and speed.
  • An inertial measurement unit on the roof measures acceleration and angle changes to determine vehicle behavior.
  • GPS antennas on the roof estimate angle and orientation even before the vehicle is in motion.

The self-driving vehicle uses many gadgets you’ll already see in high-end Lexus cars including cameras, radar, lasers and GPS.  The Lexus research vehicle just takes all that to the next level.

Like the autonomous car project from Google, the Toyota car is based heavily on technologies that are already commercially available.  Toyota officials say they focused more on engineering, while Google focuses more on software and mapping. However both companies, along with the Audi we wrote about here share the goal of eliminating accidents.  Both the Google car and the Audi car have received licenses for street testing from the state of Nevada.

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