The Toyota Research Institute (TRI) has revealed its new-generation autonomous prototype for this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES), dubbed Platform 3.0.
Based on the previous-generation Lexus LS600h L, the new driverless vehicle platform features a better integration of autonomous driving systems into the car's design, along with greater capabilities over previous prototypes.
Compared to its predecessor, Platform 3.0 features a Luminar Lidar system that tracks 200 metres and 360 degrees around the vehicle, as opposed to the outgoing platform only sensing the front of the vehicle.
The change is made possible by four high-resolution Lidar scanners which detect objects around the vehicle. Shorter-range Lidar sensors are also fitted lower down on the four sides of the car, detecting smaller objects like children or debris.
According to the company, the new platform also has the capability to incorporate new technologies as they come available - essentially future-proofing.
In terms of design, TRI called upon CALTY Design Research and the engineers of Toyota North America R&D to come up with ways of concealing the vehicle's array of cameras and sensors.
On the vehicle's roof the team created a weather- and temperature-proof panel for the Lidar sensors, using the sunroof compartment to minimise the overall height.
Additionally, TRI designed a groovy hexagonal box in the boot area to house all the computational architecture for the autonomous system components (below).
Toyota says it plans to start producing Platform 3.0 vehicles in the northern hemisphere by Spring (late March), with all the upcoming prototypes to be based on production Lexus LS models.
Production volume has been kept to a minimum, as TRI says it allows for "continued flexibility", given the rapid developments the technology has made in under a year - both previous-generation 'Platform' test vehicles were revealed in the last 12 months.
Two versions will be manufactured; a dual-cockpit version which allows for the transfer of control between the automated vehicle and a human test driver while having a back-up driver, dubbed 'Guardian', along with a single-cockpit variant that tests full vehicle automation, called 'Chauffeur'.
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