Self-driving scaredy cats, or safest possible approach?
Current autonomous technology isn't yet mature, and letting self-driving cars loose with 2018's systems is dangerous – at least, it is according to Lexus.
Lexus international president, Mr Yoshihiro Sawa, told media the company doesn’t believe it’s being conservative with its rollout of autonomous driving features. Instead, it wants to perfect the technology before pushing it to the market.
“Actually we are not conservative we believe, because we aim to have the world’s safest car,” Sawa said.
“Of course, safety and autonomous sound different, but however the technology is the same so we are putting the same kind of sensor on autonomous – but first of all we have to establish the safest situation, that is very important.
"So on top of that autonomous will come. If you just focus on autonomous people will not understand, autonomous is not perfect yet.”
Lexus lags behind the likes of Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi when it comes to autonomous driving, with the Japanese brand set to be the last of the luxury manufacturers to introduce autonomous features. Sawa argues that's a safety-driven decision.
“Autonomous [technology] is not perfect yet... especially the city area, there are many unexpected situations happening.
"Autonomous [driving] in city is a very dangerous situation sometimes, but freeway or toll road things are quite different. So I think first of all we focus on the freeway and highway to satisfy the autonomous [demands], but then later on we are going to introduce autonomous for city area.
"But before [that] we focus on safety to reduce the collision or accident or injury. Some may say that’s conservative but our priority is more on the safety issue.”
Lexus’ plan for autonomous rollout will see it launch its highway capable autonomous vehicles by 2020, with focus on urban environment coming in the early parts of the next decade. Even then, Lexus says its autonomous systems will not be available everywhere.