Toyota Begins Autonomous Driving Tests on Public Roads in Europe
After successful test runs in the U.S. and Japan, Toyota Motor Europe (TME) announced the beginning of autonomous driving (AD) on public roads in Europe. After successful simulations and trials on closed circuits, TME is testing its in-house developed autonomous driving technology in the city center of Brussels, Belgium. The tests will include a modified Lexus LS sedan navigating a fixed loop in the city over the next 13 months.
Toyota's Brussels R&D facility is the Regional Center of Excellence for Computer Vision, using computers to identify objects and predict their movements. Toyota said that the main goal of this pilot is to study complex and unpredictable human behavior and its impact on autonomous driving system requirements.
"The complexity and diverse population of an urban environment like Brussels is key to understanding human behavior. After successful trials on public roads in Japan and the US, we are now adding European conditions to the technology's understanding." said Gerard Killmann, Toyota Motor Europe (TME) Vice President Research and Development.
The Lexus LS is a regular series production vehicle that will be driving on regular, public roads. The only difference is the addition of a roof mounted suite of sensors including LIDAR, radars, cameras and high precision GPS system.
Although the Lexus LS sedan is designed to operate autonomously, a safety driver will be behind the wheel ready to intervene and take over control of the AD system at any time.
Toyota is bringing this car to the open roads, after months of thorough preparation of the vehicle validating the AD system, training the drivers, analyzing the route and engaging with local authorities to acquire the necessary approvals.
The tests in Brussels are part of Toyota's global vision to create safe mobility for all. Toyota sees the relationship between a driver and the car as teammates working together, a mobility approach which it has dubbed "Mobility Teammate Concept". The goal of the program is to realize safer and more accessible mobility.
Toyota is working on two different automated driving models in parallel called Guardian and Chauffeur. Guardian is Toyota's advanced driver assist system that was announced at CES eariler this year.
Toyota Guardian employs a unique dual cockpit control system where the driver is in control of the car at all times except when Guardian anticipates a possible accident situation and automatically takes over without any further input from the driver. Chauffeur to Toyota's level-4 autonomous system designed to operate without human intervention.
While developing these cutting-edge technologies, Toyota equips all its newly sold cars with advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS), called Toyota Safety Sense and Lexus Safety System+2.
The automated vehicle will also be used for collecting data as part of Toyota's involvement in the European "L3Pilot project," along with 34 other partners, including major car manufacturers, automotive suppliers and research institutes.
The L3Pilot, which references level-3 autonomy, is a four-year European project that launched in 2017. The pilot is partially funded by the European Commission. The project paves the way for large-scale AD field tests of around 1,000 drivers in 100 vehicles across 10 countries in Europe.
Within this framework, TME will concentrate on researching customer behaviors and the safe operation of systems in complex and diverse urban environments.
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