Autonomous Lexus Test Car Revealed

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Toyota Adds Autonomous Lexus to Second-Generation Test Fleet

Toyota–or more specifically, Toyota’s Research Institute (TRI)–isn’t new to the world of autonomous testing. Their first test car debuted back in 2013, but after collecting a great deal of information over the years, it was time to build a new one. TRI unveiled that second-generation car at the Prius Challenge event in Sonoma, California, this week. And this time, it’s an autonomous Lexus.

The Prius Challenge aims to unite everyone from entrepreneurs to scientists to see who can achieve the greatest performance efficiency. The team that obtains the highest miles per gallon rating from a new Prius under controlled conditions is the winner. It’s a win-win for all involved, as TRI collects valuable data, and professionals from Sillicon Valley gain invaluable experience.

The new autonomous Lexus, based on an LS 600hL, was built entirely by TRI. It features goodies like a drive-by-wire interface, radar and camera sensors, and layered LiDAR. TRI designed the whole package to be as modular as possible so that future upgrades are a snap. The new car will allow TRI to not only test autonomous technology, but safety technology as well.

TRI is currently developing its Guardian (level 4) and Chauffeur (level 5) systems. Guardian provides driver aid technology, signaling when the driver should intervene. It’s the sort of system we’re beginning to see in some new cars. Chauffeur, on the other hand, is a fully-autonomous system that requires no intervention.

With virtually every automaker working hard on improving safety through autonomous driving technology, this new Lexus test car represents an important step forward for Toyota. Expect to see the fruits of its labor on plenty of production cars in the near future.

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