The Toyota Research Institute (TRI) showed its first self-driving car this week, a Lexus LS 600hL test vehicle equipped with LIDAR, radar, and camera arrays to enable self-driving without relying too heavily on high-definition maps.
The vehicle is the base for two of TRI’s self-driving research paths: Chauffeur and Guardian. Chauffeur is research into Level 4 self-driving, where the car is restricted to certain geographical areas like a city or interstates, as well as Level 5 autonomy, which would work anywhere. Guardian is a driver-assist system that monitors the environment around the vehicle, alerting the driver to potential hazards and stepping in to assist with crash avoidance when necessary.
Toyota thinks Guardian’s research will be deployed more quickly than Chauffeur. Similar tech is available in many cars today in safety features like Automatic Emergency Braking.
The car is part of a billion-dollar investment Toyota announced in late 2015 into the TRI, which has a mandate to develop AI technologies for autonomous cars and robot helpers for the home. The Institute has its headquarters near Stanford in California and satellite facilities near MIT in Massachusetts and the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor.