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Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), along with its Lexus division, has unveiled its advanced active safety research vehicle for the first time at the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, revealing the company’s ‘co-pilot’ philosophy for automated vehicle safety technology.

Toyota says its Integrated Safety Management Concept views traffic safety as “a holistic blend of people, vehicles and the driving environment” with a vision towards technologies that enhance driver skill – contending that a more skilful driver is a safer driver.

The idea of a future car that may not necessarily drive itself, despite research components that have the potential to lead to a fully autonomous car, goes against current trends in autonomous vehicle development that aim to eliminate the need for drivers to be directly involved.

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Toyota group vice president and general manger of Lexus USA, Mark Templin, said while the Japanese manufacturer pursues development in more advanced automated technologies, it believes drivers must be fully engaged.

“For Toyota and Lexus, a driverless car is just a part of the story. Our vision is a car equipped with an intelligent, always-attentive co-pilot whose skills contribute to safer driving.”

The research vehicle, based on a Lexus LS, is equipped with sensors and automated control systems to observe, process and respond to the vehicle’s surroundings, including GPS, stereo cameras, radar and light detection and ranging (LIDAR) laser tracking. The technology allows the vehicle to scan movement of objects around it, identify green lights from red, and measure its trajectory on the road.

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“The real value of research projects like this is reinforcing our focus on what a few years ago seemed an impossible dream and is now becoming more plausible,” Templin said.

“[We] consider the elimination of traffic fatalities and injuries the ultimate goal of a society that values mobility.”

So far three states in the US have passed laws permitting the use of autonomous cars, Nevada, Florida and California, with Google being granted the first licence to test an autonomous vehicle on Nevada’s public streets joined later by automotive supplier Continental and, just recently, Audi.




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