Toyota and its Lexus division took a step closer to the autonomous car as they unveiled their Advanced Active Safety Research Vehicle (AASRV) at a press conference in the run up to CES 2013 in Las Vegas. Based on a Lexus LS, the AASRV uses automated vehicle safety technologies to work toward the goal of eliminating "future traffic fatalities and injuries."
Based on the company's Integrated Safety Management Concept, the AASRV test vehicle includes technology that could be used to make a self-driving car, but that is not Lexus' goal. The company's approach is to use this technology to enhance the driver's skill. Instead of taking over control, the system assists the driver to avoid or minimize accidents. It's designed to avoid crashes, to prepare the car in the event of a crash, use passive technology to minimize the danger of a crash and to aid rescuers after a crash.
The AASRV is equipped with automated control systems working with sensors such as high-definition stereo cameras and Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) laser tracking. These do everything from scanning for objects up to 150 meters (492 ft) away to seeing if the traffic lights are green.
There's also radar on the front and sides of the car to track objects and eliminate blind spots, while gyroscopes, accelerometers and GPS track the car's angle and orientation. The point of all this is not only to feed the car's automated systems with data, but to keep the driver informed so they are able to quickly make the best decisions.
Many of these new safety features, such as anti-lock brakes, lane-keep assist systems, and blind-spot monitors are already installed on existing Toyota and Lexus models, but Toyota is taking things a step further by integrating them into a vehicle alongside new technologies to develop its Intelligent Transportation System (ITS).
The vehicle has been put through its paces at the company's ITS proving grounds, an 8.6 acre (3.48 ha) site at the Higashi-Fuji Technical Center in Susono City, Japan, which began operations last year. This full-scale layout of an urban road environment is equipped with a system that links vehicle to vehicle and vehicle to infrastructure using short waves to continuously collect information and send collision warnings.
Like other auto manufacturers including BMW, GM and Daimler, Toyota hopes that by developing systems that connect people, infrastructure, vehicles and the environment it will help to enhance development and testing of safer semi-autonomous vehicles.
The video below shows the AASRV in action.