The race to the car that drives itself continues to heat up. Automakers around the world are eager to tease their latest autonomous capabilities. Most recently, we've seen a self-parking system from Volvo and a glimpse at Nissan's plans. Last week, Toyota became the latest automaker to show its hand, providing a look at its Automated Highway Driving Assist, a feature that should be available within the next two or three years.
Toyota's Automated Highway Driving Assistant is a two-part system that takes over acceleration, deceleration and lane maintenance on highways. The AHDA system represents a more capable, next generation version of features that are available today. It is the latest marketable technology to come from Toyota's advanced active safety research vehicle.
The first part of the system is the Cooperative-adaptive cruise control, essentially a next-gen automated cruise control. The system uses 700-MHz band vehicle-to-vehicle ITS communications to gather acceleration/deceleration data from the vehicles ahead and maintain a safe, uniform following distance. Toyota says that this cuts down on unnecessary acceleration and deceleration, improving fuel efficiency and reducing traffic congestion.
The second part of AHDA is Lane Trace Control, which Toyota described to us as a more advanced form of its Lane Keeping Assist system. Current-generation lane systems simply provide a warning or minimal amount of steering feedback when the vehicle begins to stray from the lane, but Toyota's Lane Trace adjusts the steering angle, torque and braking in order to maintain a driving line within the lane. It uses a combination of high-performance cameras, millimeter-wave radar and control software. When compared to Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Trace Control can operate at higher speeds and work within a wider range of driving conditions, including sharper road curves.
Toyota is trialling the AHDA system on the Shuto Expressway near the greater Tokyo area. It says that it will market the technology by the mid-2010s.
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