A new advanced active safety research vehicle was introduced by Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) and Lexus (a sales division of Toyota) at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in the beginning of January 2013 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The new vehicle is a step to combine the autonomous technologies and high-level driver assistance systems including vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication technology.
According to what its company claims the new Lexus LS is equipped with the “world’s most advanced pre-collision safety system”. It contains systems already available on Toyota and Lexus vehicle: ABS, Lane-Keep Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. The most distinctive features of the vehicle are as follows: On the roof, there is a 360 degree Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) laser in order to identify objects around within 230 feet (70 meters). There are radars on (each side and the front of) the vehicle in order to determine the location and the speed of objects around. On the roof, there is also a measurement unit to determine acceleration and angle changes in vehicle behavior. Moreover, it has three high definition color cameras to identify objects, including traffic lights within 500 feet (150 meters) away. GPS antenna enables the estimation about the angle and orientation of the vehicle even before it moves. The combination of these systems which is active during the driving process is developed to prevent accidents.
For the research vehicle, 8.6 acre urban testing ground was built at the Higashi-Fuji Technical Center in Susono, Japan. New rescue systems and how to improve drives are being studied there. Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) also invested in the research: the purpose of the shortwave signals in the vehicle is making the driver aware of the surroundings by transferring information between the vehicle and other vehicles on the road, road-side infrastructure and even pedestrians.
Lexus Group Vice President and General Manager Mark Templin says that: “In our pursuit of developing more advanced automated technologies, we believe the driver must be fully engaged. For Toyota and Lexus, a driverless car is just a part of the story. Our vision is a car equipped with an intelligent, always-attentive co-pilot whose skills contribute to safer driving.” It is emphasized that the objective is not producing a robot car but achieving a safer drive.