As automakers race (pun intended) to create an autonomous vehicle for the marketplace, it seems that Toyota is one step closer to turning that dream into a reality. The automobile manufacturer recently stated it has tested its self-driving car on open roads, and has a release date set of approximately sometime in 2020.
A uniquely modified Lexus GS performance sedan, the model is equipped with special sensors and was tested on the Shuto Expressway. The vehicle was able to change lanes, keep a good distance from other cars on the road, and merge onto the highway. The feature on the GS is named ‘Highway Teammate’, and will be an option on Lexus and Toyota models eventually, in the near future.
Toyota states the GS can recognize possible road hazards, sense other cars close by, and will be able to make safe lane changes, automatically. The company also claims that the vehicle operates much like any other car, and that the ride will not be too jarring for anyone within the vehicle. Apparently the system can handle main roads and highways; however nothing was confirmed regarding busy city driving.
Toyota goes to state that their autonomous driving models will be released into the market sometime in and around 2020; potentially the same time Tokyo is set to host the Olympic Games.
Yahoo reported that this might seem rather innovative; however, Toyota might really just be catching up to its competition when it comes to self-driving cars. While General Motors (GM) has already been providing rides to work for their employees via one of their self-driving prototype models, the company has not confirmed a product that is ready for consumers yet. Nissan is also on the self-driving spectrum, stating their autonomous car will be ready and driving on roads in Japan by 2016. Telsa has also chimed in, saying their self-driving cars are ‘almost ready’; where Google has already has its self-driving vehicles driving on open roads within America.