Think Driving Nannies Are Bad Now? Toyota Wants to Tell You When You Can and Cannot Drive
Driving nannies are already starting to get a little ridiculous. If you try to take a turn too quickly, your car’s advanced stability control system may automatically apply the brakes and keep you in check. Perhaps the car doesn’t think you brake soon enough, so it brakes for you – hell, there are even situations where autonomous braking systems have been accused of braking for no reason. What if your car could evaluate your driving skills and determine what you’re able to do? What if your car can determine whether or not you drive on the freeway, in snow, or in the rain. What if your car determines how close to the imposed speed limit you can get? Sounds ridiculous, right? Well, Toyota thinks that’s the answer to driving safety.
Toyota Showcases its "Toyota Guardian" Technology that Could Create Superhuman Drivers
Every automaker is working towards road and vehicular safety in some way or another. While most of them are doing it through autonomous technology, Toyota Research Institute had a breakthrough last year to fulfill its moral obligation towards road safety. In a nutshell, the technology, called “Guardian,” coordinates the skills of the human driver and the vehicle they’re driving. What’s even better is that Toyota intends to share this with other automakers as well.
Toyota Isn’t Happy About California’s New Autonomous Car Testing Rules
Toyota has issued a warning that California’s new self-driving guidelines could become a major roadblock in the race to widespread implementation of fully autonomous vehicles. This past Tuesday, Hilary Cain, director of technology and innovation policy at Toyota Motor North America, went before a Capitol Hill forum and criticized the Golden State’s recent adoption of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 15-point self-driving checklist, raising concerns that the move could stifle technology development.
Late last month, California revealed a new proposal that would incorporate the NHTSA’s latest checklist as a replacement for third-party safety testing. The proposal also relaxed other guidelines and would allow the testing of autonomous vehicles without a human driver or steering wheel, given the vehicle came equipped with two-way communication and complied with the NHTSA checklist. A public hearing on the proposal will be held later this month.
While in Washington, Cain argued that under California’s new guidelines, the NHTSA’s voluntary checklist would become mandatory, and could halt innovation.
“If we don’t do what’s being asked of us voluntarily by the NHTSA, we cannot test an automated system in the state of California,” Cain said, according to Reuters. “That is preposterous and that means testing that is happening today could be halted and that means testing that is about to be started could be delayed.”
Cain went on to criticize the NHTSA checklist as being unclear and potentially problematic. “The problem is there is going to be accountability and there is going to be enforcement. We need to go through this with a fine tooth comb.”
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Self-driving cars have been a popular topic lately. Google’s autonomous cars have been cruising around for a while now, and Chevy just announced plans to integrate a fleet of fully autonomous 2017 Chevy Volts into its Warren Technical Center Campus. Now, in a recent press release, Toyota revealed that it has been testing an self-driving Lexus GS on Tokyo’s Shuto Expressway.
The Lexus GS has been fitted with special sensors and the latest artificial intelligence programming that allows it to recognize hazards, make decisions, and take action. Once a driver enters the highway or passes through a toll booth, automated driving can be turned on, and the vehicle will maneuver through traffic without input from the driver. Say hello to Highway Teammate.
The special GS is the newest example of Toyota’s push to evolve the driver-car relationship and its development of advanced safety systems. Toyota will continue to develop the technology and hopes to make it so that mobility means safety, efficiency and freedom for everyone. Toyota plans to put vehicles like the Highway Teamate into production and release them into the market sometime around 2020.
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Toyota has just announced it will be investing in the development of artificial intelligence by financially backing research at Stanford and MIT. The $50 million investment will take place over a five-year period with the aim of advancing AI to make everyday life simpler and to advance autonomous vehicles.
“We’re here today to mark the beginning of an unprecedented commitment,” said Kiyotaka Ise, Toyota’s Senior Managing Officer and Chief Officer of R&D. “We will initially focus on the acceleration of intelligent vehicle technology, with the immediate goal of helping eliminate traffic casualties and the ultimate goal of helping improve quality of life through enhanced mobility and robotics."
Most notable in the automotive sector, this research and development has the goal of reducing traffic accidents by furthering vehicle-based technologies that mitigate and prevent crashes. Toyota’s vision is to eventually go beyond driver aides like adaptive cruise control or pre-collision braking to a more complete autonomous system.
Beyond the automotive segment, Toyota is also investing in the creation of robotics to help in everyday life. One key area of assistance Toyota points out is elderly care. Toyota has already created robots to help with physical therapy, so elder care is a logical next step. That’s no surprise considering the company’s long history of building robotics, a history that dates back to the 1970s.
The $50 million will be split evenly between Stanford University and MIT’s joint research centers located at both campuses.
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