Toyota showed off its second-generation advanced safety research vehicle at the company’s Prius Challenge event in Sonoma, California, recently. The safety research vehicle is the first autonomous testing platform developed entirely by the Toyota Research Institute (TRI).

The platform is built on a current generation Lexus LS 600hL,  focusing on machine vision and machine learning. The layered and overlapping LIDAR, radar and camera sensor array reduce the need to depend too heavily on high-definition maps, especially for near-term systems which will be designed for use in areas where such maps don’t yet exist, says Toyota. The technology stack will be used to develop both of TRI’s core research paths: Chauffeur and Guardian systems.

  • Chauffeur refers to the always deployed, fully autonomous system classified by SAE as unrestricted Level 5 autonomy and Level 4 restricted and geo-fenced operation.
  • Guardian is a high-level driver assist system, constantly monitoring the driving environment inside and outside the vehicle, ready to alert the driver of potential dangers and stepping in when needed to assist in crash avoidance.

Toyota’s work on autonomous vehicles in the United States began in 2005 at its technical center in Ann Arbor, Mich.  The company secured its first U.S. patents in the field in 2006.  According to a report last year by the Intellectual Property and Science division of Thomson Reuters, Toyota holds more patents in the field than any other company.

[Image courtesy: Toyota]

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