Toyota's ADAS technology: Autonomous Vehicle and ADAS Japan 2016 (1)

Autonomous driving system for highways to be introduced around 2020



The driver's hands are off the steering wheel of the test vehicle for highway autonomous driving (courtesy of Toyota)

The driver's hands are off the steering wheel of the test vehicle for highway autonomous driving (courtesy of Toyota)

 The "Autonomous Vehicle and ADAS Japan 2016" conference was organized by TU Automotive and held in Tokyo from July 11 - 12, 2016. This report summarizes Toyota Motor Corporation's autonomous driving based on a lecture presented by Ken Koibuchi, General Manager, Advanced Safety System Research and Development Div., Toyota Motor Corporation under the title of "An overview of autonomous driving technology and how it will impact society."

 Toyota intends to develop autonomous driving technologies under its Mobility Teammate Concept to enable interactions between drivers and cars.

 New technologies developed in recent years like LIDAR (light detection and ranging) high-resolution image scanners and 3D maps that utilize it have substantially improved technology for recognizing the surroundings of a vehicle in 3D necessary for autonomous driving. Toyota plans to introduce autonomous driving technologies for highways, which feature functions including lane changes, by 2020. Koibuchi presented an outline of these technologies.

 Toyota has not announced when it plans to introduce autonomous driving for ordinary roads. While highways have clear driving lanes that are exclusive to vehicles, all of which travel in the same direction, ordinary roads feature an unstructured driving environment, and a variety of routes and traffic rules. Various moving objects share the road as they travel in different directions. Because of this, autonomous driving on ordinary roads requires comprehensive decision-making for various scenarios. There is a huge gap between driving intelligence at the present stage and driving intelligence required for that. To deal with this issue, highly detailed maps and rich LIDAR will be necessary. Driving intelligence with the required ability also requires more sophisticated decision-making capabilities through the development of artificial intelligence (AI) and use of big data.

 At the end of the lecture, Koibuchi pointed out that autonomous driving has the potential to greatly change mobility. He also noted that differentiating points in vehicle intelligence will change from, 1) Differentiation by hardware and 2) Differentiation by software to, 3) Differentiation by collection and utilization of massive amounts of data.

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