The Toyota Research Institute (TRI) unveiled its first autonomous car at the company’s Prius Challenge event in Sonoma California this week. The car is built on a current generation Lexus LS 600hL test vehicle, which is equipped with radar, LIDAR, as well as camera array that can enable self-driving without depending on high-definition maps too heavily.
The technology of this vehicle will be used as a base for both of TRI’s self-driving research paths: Guardian and Chauffeur systems. Chauffeur is an unrestricted Level 5 autonomy and a Level 4 self-driving research, where the car is restricted to geo-fenced operation. Guardian is a high-level driver assist system that alerts the driver of potential hazards, monitoring the environment around the vehicle, and steps into assist with crash avoidance when required.
“Basically, it is a smart vehicle designed to get smarter over time,” said Gill Pratt, CEO of Toyota Research Institute. “It will learn individual driver habits and abilities and will benefit from shared intelligence from other cars as data gathering, sharing and connectivity technologies advance. We believe Guardian can probably be deployed sooner and more widely than Chauffeur, providing high-level driver-assist features capable of helping mitigate collisions and save lives, sooner rather than later.”
In late 2015, Toyota announced a billion dollar investment into the TRI, which has a permit to develop AI technologies for self-driving cars and robotics. The car is a part of that project. The headquarters of TRI are situated in California near Stanford, and the satellite facilities are located near MIT in Massachusetts and the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor.