Toyota enters the self-driving cars’ league with Lexus GS450h

  • AFP, Tokyo
  • Updated: Oct 06, 2015 19:12 IST
Visitors look at Japan's auto giant Toyota Lexus GS450h , a self-driven car in Tokyo on Tuesday. Toyota is expecting to commercialise autonomous vehicles before the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. (AFP)

The latest foray in the world of automated vehicles came from Toyota on Tuesday when it unveiled the new Toyota Lexus GS450h, a car that can drive itself along a highway, using sophisticated sensors to navigate roads, merge lanes and overtake other vehicles.

Toyota hopes to make other cars with similar features available within five years, in time for Tokyo’s hosting of the Olympics. “We aim to be operational by 2020, the year when Tokyo welcomes the Olympic Games,” said Yoshida Moritaka, Toyota’s chief safety technology officer.

In its current incarnation, the car - a modified Lexus GS - only switches to fully automated mode once it reaches the less frenetic confines of a highway and passes a sensor. “The car we have here is able to drive independently from the highway entrance to the exit,” Moritaka said.

An in-car display screen for autonomous navigation on Lexus GS450h. (AFP)

But Toyota hopes the technology will help it one day build an entirely driverless car as well as reduce accidents and congestion.

Toyota has been a relative latecomer to the rush to design automated cars. But last month it announced plans to invest $50 million in building artificial intelligence into its vehicles.

The joint research with and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will take place over the next five years, Toyota Motor Corporation said. Several major carmakers and technology giants have been pursuing autonomous vehicle technology.

Google has been testing self-driving cars in Silicon Valley, while Nissan has vowed to put an automated car on Japan’s highways as soon as 2016.

Toyota demonstrating Lexus GS450h’s autonomous driving on the Tokyo metropolitan highway. (AFP)

In 2018, Nissan models should have the ability to avoid hazards and to change lanes, and by 2020 vehicles should be able to autonomously manoeuvre through crowded city roads. Apple is also rumoured to be pursuing the technology.

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