The New Lexus AI Co-Pilot has a 6th, 7th and an 8th Sense
The race to build self-driving cars is heating up as Toyota joins the likes of Google. While Google may have a more futuristic approach to its driverless car, Toyota is focusing on the present and taking one step at a time. Toyota has enticed the show goers at CES 2013 with the revelation of its LIDAR-beaming Lexus AI Co-pilot LS600hL. The car comes with a 360-degree LIDAR rangefinder, Advanced GPS, hi-definition color cameras, and multiple radars that will not only reduce, but eliminate traffic casualties. Jim Pisz, Corporate Manager of North American Business Strategy at Toyota, explained that the goal of the car is:
Autonomous does not mean driverless … technology should enhance a driver’s skills, but we do believe that the technology is at a state where it can intervene in a case where driver error is absolutely evident.
When I say the car has a 6th, 7th and 8th sense, I mean it. The A-PCS system in the car recognizes a possible collision, it stiffens the suspension, pre-tensions the seat belts, and automatically applies the brakes to reduce the speed to levels that will keep the vehicle and the pedestrians safe from an accident. You may want to take this car out on the road and test it yourself, but at the moment, the car is only a guinea pig Toyota’s labs in Japan. Toyota is trying to learn as much as it can from this research project so that it can incorporate bits and pieces of the lessons in the vehicles in its main production line. Well, isn’t that even better news? It means that we don’t have to wait decades, as in the case of Google, till we get these safety features in our cars.
With the tremendous progress that Toyota has made in the past few years in building safer cars, it may be heading in the direction of manufacturing driverless cars in the near future. But before that we need to ask ourselves if we as a society are ready for self-driving cars. Are you?