In an effort to rapidly advance development of its Toyota Guardian automated vehicle mode, Toyota Research Institute is building a closed-course test facility in Ottawa Lake, Michigan, which will be operational in October.

The new facility will be used exclusively by the institute to safely replicate extreme driving scenarios that are too dangerous to perform on public roads.

The company filed permits this week and plans to lease an approximately 60-acre area of Michigan Technical Resource Park (MITRP). The new facility will include congested urban settings, slick surfaces and a four-lane divided highway with high-speed entrance and exit ramps. It will be built inside MITRP’s 1.75-mile oval tract track.

Toyota will also have access to the oval track and other onsite facilities and services owned by MITRP.

The Guardian autonomous vehicle platform is designed to assist human drivers prevent accidents and ultimately, improve safety on the roadways. When in Guardian mode, the system can warn drivers of impending dangers.

In September of 2017, the institute released a video showing the first demonstration of its Guardian and Chauffeur autonomous vehicle platform. The company believes the right testing facility can propel advances in the technology, especially for the Guardian mode.

“By constructing a course for ourselves, we can design it around our unique testing needs and rapidly advance capabilities, especially with Toyota Guardian automated vehicle mode,” said Ryan Eustice, the institute's senior vice president of automated driving. “This new site will give us the flexibility to customize driving scenarios that will push the limits of our technology and move us closer to conceiving a human-driven vehicle that is incapable of causing a crash.”

Related: Toyota Invests $5M in Self-Driving Test Facility

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