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Toyota Announces New Partnership To Advance Automated Driving

Future of Transportation

The Toyota Research Institute (TRI) has signed an agreement with GoMentum Station for the further development of autonomous vehicle technology. The testing will take place on the 5,000 acre autonomous vehicle proving grounds managed by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) in Concord, California. The CCTA facilitates and encourages what they call “collaborative partnerships” between automobile and OEM manufacturers, Tier 1 suppliers, technology companies, researchers, and public agencies, among others.

Working Together

This partnership announcement from TRI and CCTA is remarkably similar to a story we reported on last week in our home state of Michigan. Our recent experience in Brussels, Belgium at AutoSens further drove home the need for collaboration in the fields of vehicle perception technology and automated driving. While these two partnerships are relatively new, it’s encouraging to see entities in the automotive arena working together, particularity when it comes to something that will change society’s entire landscape. Driverless car advocates point to a massive drop in – and possibly the elimination of – traffic accidents and fatalities. TRI’s automated programs, Guardian and Chauffeur, are designed and engineered accordingly.

“The benefits of driverless technology are many, but the most important one is increased safety,” said Randy Iwasaki, Executive Director of CCTA. “The statistics are clear: lives will be saved by reducing a vehicle’s reliance on human drivers, and we are excited to see the progress TRI will make to perfect driverless and driver-aided technology at GoMentum Station.”

Double Vision

Under TRI’s Guardian approach, the driver still maintains control of the vehicle. Guardian is exactly what it sounds like: an advanced driver assistance system, keeping an eye out for potential collisions, and activating only when needed. It’s always present but not in the forefront until absolutely necessary, similar to how many active safety systems, like forward collision mitigation, work today. Chauffeur, on the other hand, is full automation. Like Guardian, Chauffeur is also exactly what it sounds like: every person is a passenger as the vehicle operates itself.

Guardian and Chauffeur are part of TRI’s Platform 2.1 research vehicle; the video below shows how the technology responds when things like roadway debris and stalled vehicles are encountered. Both systems use the same array of sensors and cameras along with a new, high-fidelity LIDAR system provided by Luminar.

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Photo: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Prime Location

TRI will use GoMentum Station for further road testing of Platform 2.1. The facility will allow for the evaluation of certain extreme driving events not yet ready for testing on public roads. TRI believes  GoMentum’s varied terrain and real-life infrastructure like roads, bridges, tunnels, intersections, and parking lots provide the ideal environment. TRI’s close proximity (Los Altos, California) to GoMentum Station is an added bonus.

“The addition of GoMentum Station to TRI’s arsenal of automated vehicle test locations allows us to create hazardous driving scenarios for advancing capabilities of both Guardian and Chauffeur, and further develop our technology,” said Ryan Eustice, Vice President of Autonomous Driving, TRI.

“The city of Concord is very excited to welcome Toyota Research Institute and its autonomous technology to GoMentum Station,” added Concord Mayor, Laura Hoffmeister. “The city continues to serve the region as an autonomous technology hub, and we believe this partnership will continue to support economic growth and spur excitement for high-tech jobs in our community.”

Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan. 

YouTube video

Photos, Video, & Source: Toyota Research Institute, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.