LAS VEGAS – Toyota and its Lexus division showed a research vehicle at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show that demonstrates the new safety technologies the automaker is developing, which the company said is part of its “Safety Management Concept” strategy.
The research vehicle, which Toyota said is based on the Lexus LS, is equipped with a range of sensors and automated control systems. They include GPS, stereo cameras, radar, and Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) laser tracking. The vehicle uses three color cameras to detect objects roughly 492 ft. away and the radar sensors on the vehicle’s front and sides measure the location and speed of nearby objects.
The GPS antennas on the roof estimate the angle and orientation of the vehicle before it’s in motion, and the LIDAR detects objects around the vehicle up to about 230 ft. away. Beyond these sensors, a device that detects the vehicle’s inertia measures acceleration and angle changes, and a distance measurement indicator located on a rear wheel measures vehicle speed and travel distance.
Toyota said that although these systems and related technologies could lead to the eventual development of an autonomous vehicle, its goal is to develop technologies that enhance driving skills. The research vehicle is a testing platform designed to help Toyota develop technologies that can enhance the driver’s ability to perceive his or her environment and assist in making safe driving decisions while on the road.
The automaker said the research vehicle is one element of its overall efforts, and explained that it has committed to conducting new research toward developing an “Intelligent Transportation System” (ITS), which would allow for vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-roadside infrastructure communications. Toyota began this research effort in November, 2012, at its new proving grounds in Susono City, Japan. The company said it modeled the proving grounds after urban roads, simulating real-life traffic conditions with other vehicles on the road and pedestrians.
Toyota’s current ITS technology uses dedicated short-wave signals to enable vehicles to communicate with one another and with area infrastructure, enabling alerts that include an impending collision at a blind intersection, a vehicle changing lanes into another vehicle’s blind spot, and a potential collision with a stopped vehicle up ahead.
The company went on to say that it is developing its ITS research globally and cooperatively with other automakers and government regulators. In the U.S., Toyota is a member of the rash Avoidance Metrics Partnership (CAMP) Vehicle Safety Communications 3 (VSC3) Consortium. As part of this program, Toyota is researching technologies such as emergency electronic brake lights, forward collision warning, blind spot warning/lane change warning, do not pass warning, intersection movement assist and left turn assist at its Toyota Research Institute, North America (TRiNA), in Ann Arbor, Mich. Although this is purely a research effort, its operations in Japan take the resulting information and use it for future product development.
The automaker announced in late 2012 that it had also developed a new "pre-collision" system that can help detect if a vehicle is going to collide with one in front of it, even at high speeds.