Published on November 6th, 2017 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


The RUSH To Release Level 5 Autonomy

Toyota Motors has just sounded a cautionary note on self-driving cars amid the global hype that fully autonomous vehicles could soon become a regular sight on public roads. The focus on increasingly sophisticated stages of autonomous driving that lead to Level 5 cars, which need no steering wheel or human input, is misplaced, according to Toyota’s top researchers.

German premium brands are racing to add advanced autonomous features to their vehicles in a bid to catch up with pioneer Tesla. Audi, for example, says its latest A8 flagship sedan is the first production car with Level 3 capability, which allows hands-free driving but requires the driver to take back control at any time.

Toyota is taking a relatively conservative, safety-based approach toward autonomous vehicle technologies, with the ultimate aim of zero casualties from traffic accidents, Pratt said.

The automaker has already deployed a suite of accident-avoidance systems throughout its range. They will be followed by more advanced features that will allow hands-off highway driving starting in 2020, Toyota executives said at the seminar here.

Vehicle-related accidents, which total 1.3 million annually, are responsible for a tiny fraction of all road deaths, but they take an especially heavy toll on teenagers. Because such accidents are unanticipated, they can severely disrupt the lives of family members and friends.

Toyota will offer Level 2 features in 2020, with Highway Teammate. Vehicles with the feature will be able to automatically merge, overtake and change lanes on highways. A Level 4 feature allowing driving on all public roads, called Urban Teammate, would be launched some time after that.

A number of automakers have said they will avoid Level 3 autonomy because of uncertainties about a driver’s ability to retake control fast enough to avoid an accident. The SAE global engineer’s association defines Level 3 as “conditional automation” in which the “human driver will respond appropriately to a request to intervene.

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