Anyone heading to Japan next summer for the Olympics?
Toyota and Lexus are taking full advantage of next summer's Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan by offering something quite unique and a glimpse of the future. The Toyota Research Institute (TRI) has just announced it will be offering the public automated driving tests in its upcoming Platform 4 (P4). These are "Chauffer" style rides that will demonstrate Level-4 self-driving capabilities. Lexus LS Hybrid sedans have been specifically modified for this tech which, more than likely, will trickle down in the relatively near future to more affordable models.
The self-driving demonstrations will take place in Tokyo's Odaiba district, chosen specifically because it's a "complex environment of pedestrians, vehicle traffic, diverse road infrastructure and tall glass buildings (that) provide a challenging setting in which to demonstrate the capabilities of Toyota's automated driving technology." Anyone interested will need to register in advance and the automaker will ultimately choose who'll take part. Unsure of a self-driving car?
Want to make it back in one piece? No problem because Japanese law requires a "Safety Driver" to be present at all times. TRI has also been testing this self-driving technology right here in the US as well, specifically in a closed-facility in Ottawa Lake, Michigan. Additional P4 software testing is happening on public roads in not just Odaiba, but also in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Los Altos, California.
If you recall, the P4 test vehicle was initially revealed last January at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. TRI has two automated driving applications in the works, "Toyota Guardian" active safety and "Chauffer" Level 4 self-driving.
Currently, self-driving technology is at Level 3, such as the Tesla Model S Autopilot. Level 5 is complete self-driving without the need for even a steering wheel. Level 4, meanwhile, Level 4 offers autonomous driving only in certain conditions, speeds, and terrain. The driver does not always need to be in full control but can do so instantly if deemed necessary.