Toyota has been testing its automated driving technology called Highway Teammate. The Japanese auto manufacturer has set 2020 as the target year to launch the driver assistant technology to consumers. Highway Teammate demonstrates next generation vehicle safety technology capabilities and represents Toyota’s driver-car relationship in the age of artificial intelligence. This new project is much more than the self-parking technology introduced on the 2007 Lexus LS.
Toyota believes that the human and vehicle relationship should be that of close friends who share a common purpose while sometimes watching over each other and helping one another out. This is referred to by Toyota as their Mobility Teammate Concept. Highway Teammate is the first step to bring this concept to realization.
Since the 1990’s, Toyota has been researching and developing automated driving technologies. As of now, Highway Teammate is being tested on a modified Lexus GS 450h on Tokyo’s Shuto Expressway. The automated driver assistance technologies have been tested in various situations including merging onto or off of freeway exits and maintaining or merging between lanes.
Highway teammate relies on some of the same technologies that are in current Lexus/Toyota safety technologies such as millimeter wave and laser radar. The automated operation is engaged by the driver after successfully merging onto the highway or passing through a tollway gate. Using highly accurate road map data, Highway Teammate can pinpoint the vehicles location with the highest precision. External sensors on the modified GS have the ability to recognize hazards or vehicles and can select a appropriate route or lane depending on the driver’s destination.
The Highway Teammate system is not meant to be a complete autonomous or “autopilot” like approach as Toyota feels that drivers, not computers, have the ability to “make the best judgments moving forward.”