Building on the company’s preference for a ‘co-pilot’ style of autonomous driving, Highway Teammate is designed to operate as part of a wider system that includes human control and an intelligent transportation communications infrastructure that is slowly being rolled out across participating areas of Japan.
Integrated into a significantly modified Lexus GS sedan, the system incorporates a series of cameras, lidar and millimetre wave radar sensors to monitor the surrounding area and traffic.
A video released today (above) shows the customised GS driving in Japanese traffic, with graphic overlays designed to help viewers understand the data ‘seen’ by the vehicle’s driverless control system.
Barriers, line markings, road signs and other vehicles are all shown with unique overlays, defining Highway Teammate’s view of the surrounding area.
As with the autonomous systems being tested by other carmakers, Highway Teammate has the ability to take control on sections of road that support autonomous driving, with the vehicle able to brake, accelerate, merge with traffic, and even overtake slower vehicles on its own.
Along with its Highway Teammate system, Toyota also plans to launch an Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications system in a number of Japan-market models this year, allowing equipped vehicles to work with new alert systems being built into some Japanese intersections.
Those systems are designed to communicate data that can’t be picked up by on-board systems alone, including the acceleration and deceleration of vehicles approaching the intersection, helping the vehicle’s own system to calculate the potential for a collision and to act accordingly.
While those ITS systems will launch soon, starting with the facelifted Crown sedan revealed yesterday, Toyota has targeted a 2020 rollout for vehicles equipped with Highway Teammate - so long as legislation is in place to accommodate their presence on public roads.